My name is Michael Alzamora. I was born in 1964 in Bogota, Columbia and immigrated to Canada in 1975. I had trouble adjusting to life in Canada, especially during my teen years and by 1988, I began experiencing Schizophrenic symptoms.
Living with Schizophrenia felt like a death sentence. Not only did I have to deal with the effects of the illness, there was a great deal of stigma as well. For many years, I felt isolated and ashamed of my condition. My only outlet was painting, which I found therapeutic.
In 2008, I decided to get physically healthier. Schizophrenics can struggle with obesity and Type 2 diabetes due to the side effects of medication as well as poor diet. My triglyceride and sugar levels were high so running was a good form of exercise to manage these issues. The results were immediate. My blood levels normalized, I lost a lot of weight and I felt better about myself. More importantly, running, became another outlet to deal with my Schizophrenia.
In 2009, I came across an ad for Achilles Canada. Since I already knew a little bit about Achilles International, an organization for people with disabilities, I wondered if the Canadian group would be a good fit for me. I didn't think I would be accepted because Achilles Canadian normally accepts visually impaired, physically handicapped or runners with head injuries. Luckily, I was accepted and happily began running with Achilles Canada.
In the 5 years I've been with Achilles, they have embraced me. I've achieved what painting and running alone couldn't do - be part of a social group and my loneliness and isolation has been reduced.
Running the NYC Marathon is much more than running my dream race or achieving a particular finish time. It is a celebration of my journey and it will be my own personal triumph over adversity.
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