Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I Will

It's not often that I get my hands on a book that I cannot put down. The kind that makes me push everything else aside until I finish. But that is what happened when I picked up The Long Run.

The truth is I didn't pick up the book. It was given to me at an 85Broads breakfast last week at which the author Matt Long spoke. I didn't know much about Matt's story save the blurb that came with the invitation. Matt was a runner. He was also a firefighter. Matt was the one who got hit by the bus during the NYC Transit strike in 2005.

I had a vague recollection of the story. I was still working at NY1 News then. It was one of those stories that had the newsroom talking, that I as the sales director would watch repeated over and over as it unfurled in that quintessential NY1 way. An illegal transit workers strike and now a tragic accident connected to it.

But the only other thing I knew about Matt's story was that Janet Hanson had read it and was taken enough to get him to come speak Thursday morning.

Looking at Matt, save a bit of a limp you would never know a bus had run over his body just five years ago and that he had been given a 5% chance to live. Well pressed and fit he looked like the typical sucessful NY businessman.

But there is nothing typical about Matt. Before the accident Matt had been a marathon runner qualifying for Boston and an Ironman triathlete. He was a firefighter with a degree in business who owned three bars in Manhattan, the most successful, Third and Long.

His excellent physical shape gave his body the strength to fight off death. And then there is his spirit.  When you hear him speak and then read his story, it is very apparent that this is a man who loves life and believes he can do whatever his mind sets itself on.  Matt had no intention of limiting himself to being a survivor. He was going to run again, no matter what anyone told him.

Matt is an inspiration to us all, not just to those who have suffered life altering injuries or illnesses. So many of us give up on some dream or goal we have because someone else tells us we can't have that. We don't believe in ourselves enough to feel the possibility. We sabotage ourselves by avoiding what we need to do to make it happen.

Matt Long saw the end result. For him it was running the NYC Marathon again. He took the steps necessary. He enlisted the support and guidance of experts in the field. He surrounded himself with his very large community of family and friends. He kept his fears and doubts at bay and the naysayers far enough out of reach to have their way with him. He did the work. Three years after the accident, in November 2008, Matt crossed the finish line.

Matt's life revolves around inspiring others with his story. He founded the I Will Foundation dedicated to helping those who have suffered life altering injuries or illnesses.

Their home page reads:

no longer will I wish...
no longer will I want...
from now on...
I will.

I think that about says it all.

What end result can you see in your future?
What will you do to make it happen?

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