This is actually a blog post Dave wrote almost a year ago. It has been such an inspiration to me over the last 10 months or so, that I decided to repost it. I have read this story at least 3 times and it doesn’t get old. When I am out on a training run and feel like I am spent, I think back to the story about Emily and push on.
– June 28, 2010
I’ve never made a conscious decision to try to inspire people, it’s a byproduct of the things I like to do. But while it always embarrasses me when someone tells me I made a difference in their life by motivating them to do something they might not have on their own, it is very satisfying. It makes me happy to know I’m having a positive effect on them and maybe the world at large.
That’s not a small thing to me, and it’s not just a little food for my ego. I know inspiration is important, because just like everyone else, I need to find things and people that inspire me.
One such person is Emily Haager. Emily was a young lady in her twenties with cystic fibrosis. She was one of the main spokes people for “Pipeline to a cure”, a charity gala that Laird and I are involved in to raise money to find a cure for this disease. One of the reasons that Laird and I are involved is a surf and ocean connection–the most effective treatment for this disease is to breathe salty air, which was discovered by a group of doctors who saw that groups of kids in Australia with this disease were doing better than most. They discovered those kids were surfing, and they found that it was the salty ocean air they were breathing that was giving them relief. This inspired one of the most effective treatments they have for this disease.
After having the opportunity to get know Emily and find out what a normal day consists of for a person with CF I was blown away. Most of their waking hours are spent treating themselves which only leaves a few hours to play and that’s when they don’t have a lung infection that puts them in the hospital. In any case after hearing her stories I found it absolutely amazing that this young lady could be so vibrant and full of love for life. She admitted though there were very tough times, but when she spoke about surfing her face would gleam like the sun in the morning. The one thing she told me that really stuck was ” as a CF patient you don’t get to quit. If you want to live you must go through the daily treatments no matter what.” I had no idea at the time how inspiring that would be to me later that year.
About a week before last years Molokai to Oahu stand up race I got the flu, probably from over training. I had gone so far over the top training for that race because I wanted to win so bad. I was starting at the harbor on my stand up board and paddling to just past Peahi then back down( 5 hrs into the wind) to prepare for this race. Biking up the crater, beach workouts even hiking up in Haleakala for altitude training. So when I got sick it crushed me, I was trying everything I knew of to combat this sickness, including IV vitamin bags, acupuncture and even chicken soup. They all helped a little. When I woke up the morning of the race I sort of felt up for it and thought I might be alright. When the race started I was OK and started to get my hopes up, but at the half hour mark Ekolu made a move that I had to cover, which meant it was time to go to work. Immediately I could tell that I didn’t have the strength it would take. I was completely devastated but thought don’t quit yet maybe it will come. Within fifteen minutes it was completely obvious that I didn’t have what it would take, my illness had got the best of me.