Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Letter From the Heart

As one of many athletes that is accessible through many social websites such as twitter, Facebook and my blog, I am never sure what type of messages I may receive. Most are of the congratulatory type or words of encouragement, you get a few that are negative and some that are indecent and lewd to say the least.

While checking my messages on Facebook, I came across a message titled "When You Run". I open it up, not really knowing what it may be about, then I read:

Dear David,
thank you for been an inspiration for many young and old people like me :) I never met you, and likely never will, but I have a favor to ask you.
My life, as i know it, has changed since last month. I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and now as a sequel of my surgery I will not be able to be as active as I used to be.
I miss the outdoor, the hiking, the cycling...but such is life.
One day, when you run will you think of me? so that for that one day I will be running too :)
Thank you

When I finished reading these few sentences, I felt a wave of different emotions.
I felt sorry because Valeria is going through a life changing event.
I felt proud because she viewed me as being an inspiration, that in turn changed my feeling of being sorry for her, in to that of being in awe of her strength.
I felt surprised that she would think of me out of all of the people to ask to fulfill her very simple request.

Most of all, I felt an elevated sense of responsibility. That feeling came from me sitting back and realizing that we as public figures (i.e. athletes, entertainers etc) no matter how minor or how major have an responsibility, whether we like it or not, to the masses. When I go out and run a race, which is very minor in the grand scheme of life, the way that I present myself and act on and off the track, somebody is watching me. I may not be a big time NFL or NBA star or even a Usain Bolt in my sport, but I realize that I have a lot of fans and am viewed as sort of an inspiration to them in one way or another and I do not want to jeopardize that.

I responded back to Valeria with this:

Thank you for viewing me as an inspiration to people. I try to carry and handle myself in that position as well.

I have no problem with running for you! I am competing at the USA Indoor Championships in New Mexico and I will definitely run for you there!!

Keep in contact with me and I hope things turn around for you so that you will be able to get back to the active lifestyle you enjoyed!

So, I will be doing just that! My races that I am blessed to run out in Albuquerque, New Mexico will be run for Ms. Valeria Pagnon and I will find a pink breast cancer wrist band to wear in her honor! I appreciate her for making me aware of the unique situation that I am in as well.


Reality said...


This touched my heart too and Ms. V did chose the right person for uplifting. May God continue to bless you and use you!

Reality from the ATL ;-)

Charlie said...

Hi David,

How sweet is this?? =) Very touching to have someone positively admire you and reach out to let you know. Kudos to u for writing her back and running for her. Humility is key, I kind of know the feeling; (shortly) I did my 1st stage play in June 09, I was SOO nervous but I just went out and gave it 100%. Afterwards as I was leaving this older couple were called after me, I stopped and they just wanted to tell me I did a great job and my character was their favorite (and a picture). I cried. Simple but sometimes it's the small things that can encourage you kno?

You're SO gonna win that race!

From a girl named Charlie

ps, we should be friends on FB!

ejheat said...

A very touching story and certainly one I can relate to all be it a different health situation with my dystonia disease and other health problems! The message that you sent back to her was so touching abd thoughtful! Not too many athletes, actors, and entertainers would take the time to do this! It was you knowing what dystonia was when I 1st wrote you on this blog and you responding back saying you are glad you can help me through my tough times is why you are my inspiration too! It still amazes me that I can count on 1 hand the number of people that knew what dystonia is, and you were 1 of those people, and of course, as everybody that reads this blog on a regular basis knows, you and I have a very special friendship beyond what words could ever say! You know better than anyone that I have been going through very bad times for a couple of months now with very few good days, and when you race regardless of your results, it is a very special day for me! I'm so proud of you for the great man you are on and off the track, and I'm proud that you keep wanting to become even a better person everyday and help people! This means everything to me! Your blog father has spoken!!!!

I can say that I wish more pro athletes, actors , and entertainers were like you, but the reality is they are not these days! To you, David, and everyone who reads this, I can say that the majority of athletes, actors, and entertainers that I have contacted have never taken the time to care about my dystonia condition when I told them certain things, and most of these people I was a fan of watching them! This really always bothers me! I usually even contacted them more than once to give them a second or even a third chance, and usually with the same results of being ignored! Too many of them are way too self-centered and selfish to even take the time to respond back! This really makes me sad since if it was 1 of their family or friends in the same situation, they would be asking people any way possible to help their loved ones! I can say that football players and wrestlers have been the best to me when responding back, but NBA and MLB players have been the worst!

I know my friend, Kerry Rhodes, is 1 of the best in the NFL when it comes to responding and caring about his fans as well! He has been my inspiration as well, as it was him taking the time to care about me and my health siuation with my dystonia, etc. that brought about our friendship! I wish more athletes, actors, and entertainers in this situation would understand what a nice response caring about someones health could mean to me or that person going through a horrible health disease and tough times, especially when me or someone else takes the time for them! I certainly don't expect to become friends with every athlete, actor, or entertainer that I contact, or are a fan of in whatever sport or entertainment area they are associated with in their field of work, but me and other people do deserve some respect from these people! I'm so thankful and grateful, David, that you are my special friend always and forever! God Bless You! That is the bottom line because I'm very proud of you me and Coach E said so!!!!


D.Kinney said...

Hey David,

Its good to see that you are drawing so many people into your world through sport. As you said we have a responsibility to the masses. That goes for everyone because as small as you may think your circle of influence is there is someone always watching you. Its great to see the personal image of someone positively affect the life of another. Keep doing what you're doing.

Anonymous said...

Immediately I thought about Tiger Woods situation, because previously my feeling was that he should not apologize for his private affairs.

Perhaps to some degree anyone who decides to step on the public stage should consider the effect they have on the general public.

My prayers to all those enduring a challenge.

LaLa said...

Okay, now I'm tearin up. We're thinking of you Valeria!