Imagine waking up for your morning run, in Charleston, South Carolina with a goal of finishing in New York City, 30 days and 1000 miles later. This wasn’t just a thought in James Mangini’s mind, it is a reality, about to happen,Thursday, June 7th.
At 10:30 am on May 7 James began his incredible journey, that started some 6 years before, as his dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. His father, also James, has a battle to fight everyday, from mastering simple motor skills to strength and over coming fear. It was the progression of the disease last year, that moved James to do something bold, beyond his regular commitment to The Michael J. Fox Foundation/Team Fox mentor program. The realization that millions of people were living in the pain his father was in drove him to act. The vision was born, he would run 1000 miles in 30 days, raising awareness for those suffering from this disease.
While he admits that running is not his favorite thing to do, James is no stranger to extreme physical and mental challenges. He served in the U.S. army from 1999 to 2004. As a Sergeant, James was an explosives engineer, spending much of his time in tactical operations. He was also the acting operations sergeant and training officer, overseeing as many as 90 soldiers in the implementation of experimental technologies to operate in a digital combat environment. James also volunteered for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, serving in the Burgdorf Junction Fire Suppression Effort. Here he lived in the mountains of Idaho assisting to contain deadly forest fires. Fourteen hour days, very little rest, fighting fast spreading fire on shear mountainsides, James admits this level of physically pushing through mental barriers prepared him for this 30 day challenge.
I had the opportunity to speak to James on Monday, June 4th days from the planned finish of 1000 miles to New York City. It is miraculous how many cities he traveled through, spreading the word, gaining support. Perhaps the most important city for James personally was a visit to his father’s home in Hillsborough. I asked James how his father handled all of this. He said “it wasn’t until about I was about 300 miles into it, that he called me and was ready to talk, that the shock had worn off”. What is shocking to the reader, is not, to the believer. It was just at the time that James told his father of his plans some months before, that Mr. Mangini felt like giving up the fight. Visit James’ website, www.1000milemarathon.org and read Mr. Mangini’s own blog post from June 5th. The hope and faith from the words he shared are inspirational and such an honor to James and what he has accomplished.
The website is a chronology of the last 30 days and the wonderful people and lives touched by this journey. After speaking to James for some time, it was easy to see the hand of God working in his life years before, preparing him for this journey, and it is that faith that keeps him going, about 33 miles every day.
As you read this, James will be completing his super-marathon, crossing the finish line at The Michael J. Fox Foundation headquarters in New York City. It is not too late to donate to this excellent program. Visit the website, and take a visual tour of these 30 days. I hope to have the pleasure of seeing James and his awesome wife Daniela this weekend. They both are great people and share a passion and understanding of truly giving. Stay tuned for a follow up of this amazing story.
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