ALS Warrior PoetALS Warrior Poet

Coveting Competitor #179
The ALS Warrior Poet

Tuesday, June 21st, 2007

World Triathlon Corporation Pays Tribute to Athlete Jon Blais

June 21, 2007 (Tarpon Springs, FL) – Today, World Triathlon Corporation announces a new initiative where all domestic Ironman, Ironman 70.3 and Iron Girl events will reserve race number 179 for athletes racing for a charitable cause. The race number was made famous by athlete Jon Blais, who made Ironman history in 2005 by becoming the first athlete with ALS to complete the world’s toughest endurance event, the Ford Ironman World Championship, in Kailua-Kona, HI.

“The event always has been and always will be so important to me. When I am sitting in a wheelchair down the road, I will look back and know that I fought the great fight,” said Blais.

In a short time, Blais became an invaluable member of the Ironman family, opening eyes and hearts to the seriousness of ALS. After his participation in 2005, he returned to the 2006 event in a wheelchair to cheer on a fellow triathlete who was racing on behalf of the ALS cause. Although Blais passed away on May 27, 2007, his memory and the contributions he made to the sport will last forever.

Prior to being diagnosed with ALS, Blais was an avid triathlete and shared his passion for triathlon with activities such as mountain climbing and hiking. Blais applied his love for the outdoors to his profession, teaching students with special needs. Two years after his diagnosis in May of 2005, Blais founded the Blazeman Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting awareness of and fundraising for those battling ALS. The foundation continues to grow and has expanded this year to include Team Blazeman, a group of athletes called "Blazeman Warriors" who have committed to raising awareness and funding a search for a cure for ALS... so others may live.

“Jon inspired Ironman staff, athletes and spectators on many different levels. From his outlook on life and the wisdom he exuded while battling ALS to his passion for Ironman, the impact Jon made will stay with us for the rest of our lives. Indeed, he fought the great fight, and we will miss him,” said Ben Fertic, president of Ironman.

Athletes interested in racing with number 179 should contact the respective race director of the event in which they wish to participate. To learn more about Ironman/Ironman 70.3 events, visit Information relating to Iron Girl events can be found at To become a part of Team Blazeman or learn more about Jon Blais and the war on ALS, visit and .

Friday, November 17th, 2006


Ironmanlife: Looking Back At Clearwater by: Kevin Mackinnon

I wrote about Jon Blais in our Clearwater coverage, but I need to add one very important footnote to having the man who managed to finish in Kona last year, despite the fact that he has ALS, at the Ford Ironman World Championship 70.3.At the awards ceremony for the event it was announced that number 179, the number that Blais wore for his historic Kona finish, will be reserved for an inspirational athlete at all Ironman races in the future.

It was a touching moment … a chance for us all to see what a difference Blais has made in the fight against ALS, often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

We saw a lot of log rolls dedicated to Blais at the finish line in Clearwater, and I’m guessing we’ll see a lot more in the future.

If you have a chance, check out the ALS Warrior Poet’s website to see how you can help the cause.

Jon, we're thinking of you.

Thursday, June 29th, 2006


This was sent to me by my dear friend and fellow Ironman, Jon Blais, a 34 year old young man who was and IS still a superb athlete and triathlete , who one year ago was diagnosed with ALS / Amyotrophic Lateral Scerlosis or Lou Gehrig's Disease.

This "blog" was written by Ken Woo, the NBC Cameraman who followed Jon's exploits in October 2005 as Jon became the First and Only ALS Patient ever to complete the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon... all 2.4 Miles of Swimming - 112 Miles of Cycling in 100 plus degrees of lava field heat - and to end it all, the infamous hot and dreaded 26.2 Mile marathon run, while battling ALS!

Yes Friends that is 140.6 Miles of personal dedication, courage and achievement.

The Blazeman did it and got his finisher medal and a host of world wide attention for ALS, an unknown and uncommon but terrible disease!

One could say and one should say that this experience and occasion, was one of ... Uncommom Valor, Uncommon Courage and a true "Profile of Real Courage."

All must read this, think about it, and Resolve to Never, Never, Ever Give up your personal fight to BE all that you can and should be at least, Once in Your Life, and as The Blazeman said... to get it on Film!

Robert Vigorito,
Race Director

EagleMan Ironman 70.3 & IronGirl Columbia Women's Triathlon


I have covered a lot of incredible moments in sports over the years including Super Bowls, NBA Finals, US Opens, Final Fours, Tours de France and ten Ironmans, but your performance in 2005's race was the most incredible I've ever witnessed. I have never seen an athlete with more guts and determination as you showed on race day man and I'll never forget it. You kicked Kona's ass when it could have beaten you into the ground and left you by the side of the Queen K Highway. The way you gutted it out to make the bike cutoff time was no less than superhuman considering how far you were behind at the turnaround. As I told you we would, we stayed with you throughout the run to cheer you on and in doing so, I witnessed what true heart and perseverance really are. Even with the ALS disease trying to shut down your body, you walked on through the ni ght never giving up, never giving in to the pain. Man, I thought you were done about mile 13, but you sucked it up and pushed on. I know you must have felt like shit out there but you never let up, you just kept going.

Walking that last mile with you into the finish line is something I never will forget and I was honored to be with walking with you and documenting your efforts. All the cheering fans supporting you must have given your feet wings as you started running again as soon as we heard them chanting Blazeman. What an unbelievable feeling it was as we came down Ali Drive into the lights and frenzy at the finish line. I can't describe how emotional it all was for me, and can only imagine what it must have felt like for you. When you log rolled over the line and into the arms of your waiting family, I just about lost it. I was so happy for you. It must have been everything you could have dreamed of when you entered the ra ce and there couldn't have been a happier ending to the day.

We all go through life facing difficult challenges, but none tougher than your fight. Whenever I find myself down and almost beaten, I will think back to that Ironman day and say if the Blazeman didn't give up, how can I? You showed me what true determination and belief in yourself can do in those moments when things seem the hardest and the darkest and I will draw on that lesson for the rest of my life in whatever I do. You showed all the doubters that even a disease like ALS can't hold someone back from achieving their dreams. Thanks man for showing me the true meaning of sport, to overcome all obstacles, and to push through when it would be so easy to give up. You are the MAN Blazeman and I wish you all the best in the future.

I will never forget our friendship and I will always be there when you need a little support. I will never forget the lessons you have taught us all, not just in sport, but in life as well. Keep the faith my man and keep up the good fight.


Thursday, June 29th, 2006


This is so hard to read! I have not seen you since Kona 2005. I hope to see you somehow before that. I know my dear friend Josh Riff has been in contact with you. Is all okay from that standpoint? He is a great guy and I know he cares about you and your WAR, and being there for you.

I watch Braveheart often to inspire me for the what I must and need to do. I will always recall with Love and Honor who you are ... The William Wallace of Seekonk and Tucson. Your devotion to a cause and to others in pain and whom suffer, drives me onward and will always.

I truly hope you have so much more in YOU and the WAR and that through God, belief, and that Blazeman Indomitable Spirit, I will be along side you in Kona 2006.

I will race for You and go hard!

Amore et Vita (Love and Life)


Dear Kevin,

First off, I want to apologize for not getting to you sooner. I want to Thank YOU for your time and effort spent with my Dad, the Vigorman, and the War on ALS. My days are now knowingly numbered and they too often suck... this WAR, is all I've got left in me. So the story goes...

I began doing Triathlons back in 1985 and never looked back... to keep a long story short, Kona 2005 was a very bitter sweet day for me. I was a veteran Triathlete with a sub 10 hour Ironman in me. Prior to Kona, my last race race was in October of 2003. I was a full time teacher with a part time job at REI and I then began working on my Master's degree in night school... which pretty much brought my training to a complete hault. In my spare time I began building a new Campy Record equipped Tri-Bike with custom paint by Joe Bell. So, in 2004, the belly grew as I was under the careful care of Dr. Ben & Jerry... knowing that when the Master's was done in the summer of 2005, Ironman training and vacations were on like Donkey Kong. From January through May 2nd, 2005, the shit kept hitting the fan and my last jog was 1.5 miles up a mountain in March. I moved back home in the summer and got into Kona in late August... daily barffing up more vitamins than training miles. I pretty much only trained for Ironman the week NBC showed up at my door to shoot film in late September. I spent my time building a website and taking anti anxiety drugs to keep my head above water realizing that... like The Man said about his loss to the Grip back in 89' (the ending of my life) was wrong... no ALS Patient wants to go out like this, and still after all these years, they've got no choice. So, I BUILT A WAR after the movie BRAVEHEART...

I thank you again and I look forward to being alive and seeing you in KONA real soon...

In Strength & Honor
ALS Warrior Poet

Tuesday, June 13th, 2006

Capt. Vigorman,

What you did for my Dad, ALSTDF and the War on ALS was incredible... I balled like a baby all weekend. The retiring of #179, finish line log rolls and bringing the War on ALS back to Kona is at its height now more than ever. YOU... ARE THE MAN! My plan of attack is to invade the town of Kona from my wheelchair come full moon October with people like you. Team Blazeman and his Warriors mission is to end this unforgiving death sentence. ALS patients need a fighting chance with real hope from the medical community that is long overdue. Cutting holes and putting pipes in patients throats and all the other bullshit that ALS patients go through until their death is not what I would call effective treatment. The technology and the science is not here yet because it has not been viewed by humans as being profitable. PERIOD... I wish I had AIDS...

I hope to see you finish what you started... see it through Captain.


Faces & Places     I     II     III     IV     V     VI     VII
2005-2007: All Rights Reserved.