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“Citius, Altius, Fortius”
What is it with the human spirit?
Last week I was reading an article in the Boston Globe about how 41-year old Dara Torres has inspired older swimmers to train harder. I had just one word of comment, “Duh”.
Our human condition is to strive for improvement. A dry sponge, sitting in wait to soak up any inspiration that comes our way. It might be something we see on TV, or a story, a poem, a picture, a kind word, a selfless action – and it kindles our flames of passion to excel in those areas that catch our spirit.
The human spirit isn't easy to beat down. Failure is only a temporary setback – a message to redirect or refine, to hone or to harness new energy, to stand back up and give it another go. Never to succumb!
I'm reminded of Jerry Espinosa – a friend with a story that never gets old. While in his late thirties and at the zenith of a successful career Jerry is carjacked, stabbed multiple times, out flees his carjackers and collapses at the side of highway. His life was fading quickly as the rushing blood that propelled him to safety now drained from his body. A Good Samaritan truck driver got Jerry to the hospital and treatment minutes before it would have been too late or this story could never be told.
Jerry seized upon his second chance to think about those things that he enjoyed most about living. And one of those things was track and field. Since that time he's given unselfishly back to the sport by inspiring others to excel. That means countless volunteer hours of coaching, not only at North Attleboro, but at many schools in the state. It means giving up free time to attend meets and cheer on athletes, boy, girl, home team or rival. It meant using the corporate resources of his former employer to help both the company and the track athletes of Massachusetts by forming a partnership with the MSTCA.
Jerry is inspiration in action. On top of that, his competitive juices have never stopped flowing. In the way that age affects all of us, he's mellow. He enjoys the camaraderie of his competitors as much as the battle. But, he's still the same warrior that donned uniforms for North Attleboro and then UMass Amherst. He recently won the New England master's championship in the 400M hurdles at 65 and change.
When his employer recently retrenched, his executive job was shed and Jerry had to think about the next phase of his life. The decision was easy. Jerry is opening a Fitness Together Personal Training Studio and his first words to me were, “How can we use this to help the high schools?” And he also has great ideas to reenergize those who have let their fitness slip.
So perhaps instead of saying “Duh”, I should have said “Bravo” to Dara Torres and the rest of those “nearing middle age” athletes who are excelling on the Olympic stage. And for those of you that are inspired by the performances in Beijing, I know a great place to find direction in your newfound quest for fitness.
“Citius, Altius, Fortius”