My friend and training partner “Mzungu” posted the following message on facebook this morning:
If you want a hero, stop looking for them in professional athletes. They live in your neighborhood. They are your friends, teachers, your triathlon teammates. I am proud to count Brent as a friend as he donates his kidney to a friend in need.
This morning, as many of us were still tweeting on the #Doprah hashtag about Lance Armstrong’s confession interview, Brent was preparing for surgery in which one of his kidneys would be removed and donated to a close friend, Mary, who has been suffering from kidney disease for 13 years and in complete kidney failure since 2011. More here.
Brent is one of my training partners, too. Well, sort of. He runs and swims much faster than I do, and I’m pretty sure he’s faster on the bike. He’s the cross-country, boys’ lacrosse, and swim coach at our local high school, an all-around nice guy and amazing athlete. He gets up to run at 5:30, teaches Health and Phys Ed all day and coaches after school. I’ll often see him coaching at the pool late into the evening. He always has a smile and a positive attitude. One time I was out running on the trail and saw him leading his (huge!) cross-country team on a training run, going in the opposite direction. He said “hi” as we passed each other and then made sure his runners moved to the side so I could pass. He didn’t yell at them, but simply said “stay right!” using an authoritative tone that said “get the hell out of her way!” He’s humble, too. He only told our group last week that he was donating a kidney, so they’d understand why he would be missing a few workouts.
Mzungu’s hero comment resonated with me because he’s right. We need to stop worshipping celebrities and putting professional athletes on pedestals. Sure, there are plenty of good professional guys and gals who work hard and earn their titles legitimately, but at the end of the day, that’s their job. They do no more (and perhaps less) than a guy like Brent who’s working full time while training for an Ironman and then makes the selfless decision to help another human being simply because it’s the right thing to do.
That’s a real hero. This is the person we should look up to, admire, tell our kids about, and consider our role model. It’s time to put an end to the trending of #Doprah and #LieStrong, titillating though they are, and start using #realhero. I hope you’ll join me. And of course please send prayers, thoughts, good vibes, whatever feels right to you, to Brent and Mary as they recover.
And while we’re on the subject of heroes and heroic deeds, let’s start thinking about what we can do, such as joining Kyle’s Krusade to help a 6 year old with cancer. This is a virtual 5k, 10K or half marathon; simply donate $10 per distance you plan to run. You can even win prizes, although I think just the sense of helping out is reward enough.
Do you know a #realhero?
Don’t forget to use the hashtag #realhero on Twitter!
If you have other suggestions for charitable events people can participate in, please let me know and I’ll add them.