My friend, Espo, has been one of my “Brothers from Another Mother” for almost 45 years. We grew up across the street from each other in our little neighborhood in the Bronx, and his Dad was a father figure to me. He’s worked his ass of for almost 30 years for the City of New York, is a devoted husband, a fantastic friend…and an amazing father.
Espo turned 50 years young in June, and I wasn’t able to visit the east coast in order to celebrate with him…COVID threw a real monkey wrench into my plans. I wanted to do something to make up for missing out on his big day…and an opportunity presented itself a couple of months ago. Let me give you a little background…
I began competing in endurance events in 2004, when I toed the line at the 2004 Boston Half Marathon. That crisp October morning, I ran for a charity called Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (now known as Cure SMA). I was motivated to do it because my two brothers passed away from Type 1 SMA in the 1970’s. So since I began running 16 years ago, my endurance efforts have meant a lot to me because I liked to tie them to assisting meaningful charities. Over the years, I’ve run in races with the New York Road Runners Team for Kids, the American Cancer Society, and Team in Training. So running races for charity is – for me – a very personal and meaningful endeavor. It’s one that I take VERY seriously.
After running my first full marathon in November 2005, I caught the running bug in a big way…so I immediately signed up for the 2006 Walt Disney World Marathon, held that January. It was a fantastic experience – so much so that I began making a trip down to Orlando in January an annual fixture on my calendar. This year, however, COVID made Disney convert their marathon weekend series of races to a virtual platform. While this fact is disappointing, the decision was a very wise one, indeed.
One of the charities that normally has entries into the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend is the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism. Well….I wanted to to do something meaningful to honor my friend….so I called the foundation up and asked if they had any entries left for this year’s events. Luckily for me, they DID!
To honor my close friend and his fantastic family, I’m going to virtually run the 2021 Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge in order to raise awareness and donations to the Flutie Foundation. I’ve attached a link right below here, in case you are interested in finding out more about the foundation and possibly making a donation to their meaningful efforts.
The Dopey Challenge is a series of races held over a 4 day period. It begins with a 5k on Thursday and a 10k on Friday, a Half Marathon on Saturday and a full Marathon on Sunday. 48.6 miles.
Tomorrow morning, January 1st, I’ll waddle through a 5k (3.1 mile) run, stop for a few minutes to snack on some chocolate chip cookies – or some Oreos (if I can find a store open at that early hour), and then start up again for 6.2 miles. I’ll try to take it really easy, in order to save my legs for the weekend.
Saturday and Sunday will be longer efforts, so I plan to run some routes near the water. I’ll share some pics from each of the runs on here over the coming three days!
Last but certainly not least: to all of you reading this, please have a most wonderful, healthy, safe, happy and successful NEW YEAR!!!