Over the past several years, I have had the wonderful opportunity to become involved with the Blazeman Foundation. It started simply as a fantastic business relationship with Mary Ann and Bob Blais, as I assisted them with many legal aspects of their charitable organization, including trademark registrations and general business assistance. Knowing that I was an avid runner, the Blais’s were generous enough to ask me to run the 2013 Boston Marathon for their organization, as one of their “Blazeman Warriors.” From the first moment I met Mary Ann and Bob I was very inspired by their dedication to their late son, Jon Blais, and his cause to wage a “War On ALS.”
Jon Blais, was diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) in 2005, at the age of 33. As a world-class triathlete himself, Jon became the first person diagnosed with ALS, to complete the Kona Ironman Triathlon, in Hawaii. Sadly, Jon lost his battle with ALS in 2007, but left behind an endearing legacy, with his Foundation. Known as “Blazeman,” Jon had stated prior to his Ironman attempt, that he resolved to finish the race even if he, “had to be rolled across the finish line.” In fact, when Jon finished the race, he spontaneously fell to the ground and log-rolled across the line. This gesture would be become well-known, as many triathletes continue to honor him and show their support for the fight against ALS by rolling across the finish line. This gesture is now known as the “Blazeman Roll.”
When I heard that Mary Ann and Bob were organizing a 5K/10K to support the Foundation and its efforts, I knew that I wanted to participate. The race was held around the grounds of the gorgeous Aldrich Mansion, in Warwich, Rhode Island.
It was wonderful to see Mary Ann and Bob once again. Also, I was introduced to others who were very dedicated to the cause, including our local meteorologist and friend of Jon, Mark Searles. Mark has been a avid supporter of Jon’s cause and has been a “Blazeman Warrior” for a while. In fact, Mark was presented with a special award for all his work toward the cause.
In addition, I had the privilege of meeting another “Blazeman Warrior,” also fighting a battle with ALS, Andrea Lytle Peet, who was going to run the race on her fantastic bike. Having been diagnosed at the age of 33, just as Jon was, and also being a triathlete, Andrea has a deep connection with Jon and the Foundation. Therefore, prior to the start of the race, Mary Ann and Bob asked Andrea to scatter Jon’s ashes around a beautiful tree. I am sure he was looking down on all of us, and wishing us a successful race.
After the amazing tributes prior to the race, it was soon ready to run! This race was another addition to my Chicago training, and little did I know that the heat and sun of the day would be great preparation to my VERY warm marathon in the windy city.
The race was a bit of a challenge, between the heat and sun beating down on us, and the rough terrain. I would almost argue that the race was a trail run in places! There were spots with no pavement and just gravel or grass. And it certainly contained its share of hills along the way. So, around mile 2, I definitely started to feel like I should have brought some bottled water with me. I was starting to over-heat and it was slowing me down. But, a 5K race is never too bad, if nothing else because it is only 3.10 miles. So, finishing felt great, except for my lapse in memory to do the ‘Blazeman Roll” as I finished. Next time, I am going to remember, no matter what my “race brain” is telling me!
Despite my slow race (yes, it was my slowest 5K yet), I did receive a 1st-place award for my efforts, basically because it was a small race field. But, still it was fun to stand on top of the podium for a few seconds and collect a small award.
While I do hope my race performance improves for my next Blazeman Run, it was such a wonderful event, for a great cause. And to add to the fantastic perks of rhe race including my new blue Blazeman Foundation shirt (which I changed into after the race because I was so hot in my cotton one), also available were free massages after the race! Those were the best! It was great to cool off under a tent, with views of the beautiful Aldrich Mansion, while being pampered with a massage.
Many thanks to all the wonderful volunteers and racers, who made the Blazeman Run at Aldrich Mansion such a great success. I feel so blessed to have met Mary Ann and Bob, and to contribute any way I can to a cause greater than myself, the “War On ALS”.