Saturday, July 5, 2008

A Tribute to a man they called Blazeman

"Decision Must Be Instant - Commitment Must Be Total."

The fight and the story that truly lives on. Started by Ironman Jonathan Blais in 2005 and thanks to Mia Richter the ALS Warrior Poet carries on the tradition. Jon Blais died in May 2007 of ALS.
Jon was a 35 year old triathlete. In 2005 and after SIXTEEN AND A HALF HOURS of gut-wrenching physical, mental and emotional depletion culminated in one triumphant moment on the shores of Kona, Hawaii, in 2005. Jon Blais log-rolled across the Ironman World Championship finish line and heard the immortalizing words "You are an Ironman!"
In 2004 he felt his arms, shoulders and chest twitching and shrugged it off blaming pinched nerves from all his training. By 2005 he realized it was something more serious.
The diagnosis: ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. The insidious progressive neurodegenerative disease affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord, slowly shutting down the body’s muscular and neurological functioning, while cruelly keeping the mind intact.
"It’s tragic that my doctors gave me the same prognosis they gave Lou Gehrig 70 years ago: ‘Go home and get ready to die,’" says Blais.
He finished 2005. In 2006 he was in a wheelchair like he predicted and he passed away before the 2007 race.

Prior to being diagnosed with ALS, Blais was an avid triathlete and shared his passion for triathlon with activities such as mountain climbing and hiking. Blais applied his love for the outdoors to his profession, teaching students with special needs. Two years after his diagnosis in May of 2005, Blais founded the Blazeman Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting awareness of and fundraising for those battling ALS. The foundation continues to grow and has expanded this year to include Team Blazeman, a group of athletes called "Blazeman Warriors" who have committed to raising awareness and funding a search for a cure for ALS… so others may live.
"Jon inspired Ironman staff, athletes and spectators on many different levels. From his outlook on life and the wisdom he exuded while battling ALS to his passion for Ironman, the impact Jon made will stay with us for the rest of our lives. Indeed, he fought the great fight, and we will miss him," said Ben Fertic, president of Ironman.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as "Lou Gehrig’s Disease," is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually lead to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.

For more info :
ALS Warrior Poet
War On ALS

Read More on Jon Blais
Read More at Triathlete Magazine
San Diego Magazine Artilce about Jon

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