In Memory of Jon Blais
For Christmas in 2005, my parents gave me a DVD documentary of the 2005 Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. While watching the documentary, we heard the story of an athlete named Jon Blais. He was an age group athlete that was being highlighted in the coverage and was attempting to complete his very first Ironman. Unlike the other athletes, however, Jon had been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) months before and was attempting to finish the 140.6 miles, nonetheless. While watching Jon finish the race and give everything he had in the process, I was drawn into his story and his determination to not let this disease stop him from achieving a lifelong dream. I felt a strong call that I needed to spread the word about Jon’s story and spread the word about ALS.
The Fiesta 5K Challenge
After receiving help from my parents, we were able to get in touch with Jon and grow a very strong friendship and partnership in the fight against ALS. In just under two years of working with Jon before his passing in May of 2007, we started The Fiesta 5K Challenge (once known as The Blazeman Warrior 5K) here in Georgia that benefited his foundation and now benefits the Emory ALS Center. With Jon’s help and our research in Atlanta, we were able to get connected with Dr. Jonathan Glass. After touring the research lab, we decided that this is where the money from the race needed to go. Over the next 15 years, the race has helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for Emory with no plans of slowing down. Through it all, Jon’s presence can be felt in every aspect of the race and even though he didn’t live to see it in person, he is a part of it all.
Prior to watching the 2005 Ironman, I raced in triathlons and grew a deep love for the sport. Starting at the age of 7, triathlons have been a cornerstone in my life for over 20 years now, but in 2005 after watching Jon’s documentary, it took a whole new meaning. I wasn’t only racing for myself or for the love I had of the sport, I was racing for Jon. My dream is to complete an Ironman, and to one day race in the Ironman World Championships just like Jon. I know that one day, I will get there and race the same roads that Jon did.
My First Ironman
I have raced in countless sprints, olympic, and half Ironman 70.3 races. I will be competing in my first full-distance Ironman in Panama City Beach, Florida on November 6th, 2021. The training will soon go into full effect and there are lots of people keeping me motivated. The early morning, late evenings and long weekend workouts have been difficult. But, I am finding motivation in thinking about Jon’s Ironman training in addition to all of the wonderful people I have met who are currently fighting this disease and those we have lost.
The Ironman race consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile run totaling up to 140.6 miles in one day. For my first Ironman, I would like to raise money and awareness for ALS, specifically benefiting the Emory ALS Center. With our fundraise, I have created a poster with mile 1 through mile 140.6. The idea is for one person to choose a mile and donate that flat dollar amount ($1 for mile 1, $2 for mile 2, $3 for mile 3 and so on). I will cross off numbers people choose to donate and update this weekly. By November, my hope is that each mile will be crossed off. In doing this, I have the opportunity to raise $9,876 with a goal of $10,000.
Please consider offering your support in the form of prayers, words of encouragement and following my race on the Ironman app the day of! If you feel called, please pick a mile and donate that amount! Thank you for your time and consideration.
Celebrate Life, Imagine A Cure