ALS Warrior PoetALS WARRIOR POET
-blazeman

KONA 2005


ALS Warrior Poet

Blazeman's War On ALS...
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Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

Blazeman,

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 night 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 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 race 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.

So I think that was the gist of my former blog dude. I mean every word of it too. I have never seen anything like what you did at the Ironman and never had a moment like crossing that finish line with you. Keep me posted on your War on ALS. Keep the faith Bro...

Talk to you soon,

Wooman



Blazeman,

Long time has passed since you finished Ironman. I hope you are still kickin'.

Wanted to congratulate you about 15 times in the past 4 months but failed to remember what I wanted to do every time I sat down to my computer. That and my computer was stolen and since resurfaced.

I hope you are well and living on the edge. You made an amazing impact on my life just watching you finish that ridiculous race.

Hasta,

Pablo


Jon,

You are an amazing individual. My name is Reina Probert and I, too, have done that crazy thing called Ironman. My dad was diagnosed this summer with ALS. And as you well know, it sucks! He has taken it in stride and does what he can, when he can. When I saw an article that you were going to be the first person with ALS to do Ironman, I called my Dad and told him to watch you. He was at my Ironman finish last year in Arizona so he knew a bit about triathlon and what it takes to finish. He has a hard time comprehending anyone doing Ironman - let alone someone with ALS.

He lives in Washington State and I live in the Missouri so much of our contact is by phone and e-mail. He asked me several times when you would be in Ironman. He called me as soon as the broadcast was over. He kept saying, he made it, he made it. I can't believe he made it. Now each time we talk, you are part of our conversation.

I will be going back to Ironman Arizona in April. This time I will be doing it for him and trying to raise $$$ for ALS research. I just wanted to let you know that you are incredible. You have inspired me and you have given my Dad hope. Thank you for that. While I don't know you personally, I think of you often and you are in my prayers. Be well and strong ALS Warrior!

Reina Probert


Hey Jon:

Just got this issue of Triathlete magazine and was reading Jay's Editorial Notes about you ALS. This may come as sounding strange, but I just lost my Aunt to ALS about 1 month ago, and I mean this from the heart with what I'm about to say, so please keep me in mind. If you or any of your family members need to talk with someone about this, someone that can be completely bias and not emotional, PLEASE, do not hesitate to call. I know you're keeping your head up high and living every day to it's fullest, but you and your family will have some day's that are harder to deal with then others. If you just need someone to talk with, vent some frustration, or even just go for a ride or swim (I don't like running) please, call.

My thoughts are with you my friend,

Warmest Regards;

Dan Plummer

Wheels On Wheels


Jon:
Have been meaning to drop you a line. Somehow the muse went sideways. Your words: “I want to know…can you suffer the accusation of betrayal without betraying your own soul.” These are good lines, John, more than worthy and indicate a unique self-reflectivity rarely found in someone who faces the challenges that you do. You have much to offer in your time left here. What a blessing to have the courage and skill to chronicle your physical demise in such a way that we may all learn and grow from your efforts. Have you ever come across the social scientist/philosopher, Ernest Becker? His work, “The Death and Birth of Meaning,” is a work that I’d think you’d find quite insightful.

I do hope that you’ll continue to write and inspire. Whether you realize it or not, you are making a difference. Many live for 8 or 9 decades and can’t even find the path. You are well down that brilliant journey. Abrazos amigo.

ST

"The privlege of a lifetime is becoming who you are." H.D. Thoreau


Hello Jon,

I saw you featured on the Canadian Sports Network tonight. You were competeing in the triathlon in Hawaii. I've been disabled (spinal cord injury) since the age of eleven, and though I haven't known anyone with ALS, I have watched a number of young friends suffer from muscular dystrophy, and finally pass away. You are an extraordinary human being. You have the guts of a slaughterhouse, and you will prevail. I agree with you when it comes to quotes, and this is one of my favorites:

Invictus
William Ernest Henley

1849-1903

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.


The Years Best Stories...
(Click Here)
By: Greg Welch for Ironmanlive.com
Tuesday, December 6th, 2005

I went to Kona this year (Wed-Sun) as a coach (three of my athletes qualified) and to finish a book I'm writing. I met Jon and his parents. Jon is the real deal... parents are very nice as well. We (Jon's parents and I) were talking Notre Dame football waiting for Jon at (T2). I worked (T1) and (T2) as well as a little of the finish line in the foot steps of Tammy, Jill and Chuck. I met Jon himself in medical post race.

When I say he is the real deal I mean that his only care was to bring attention to ALS. I think they said it on the broadcast as well - he got the same "treatment" as Lou G. did in the 1930s. I'm pretty sure we all agree this is a tragedy. 

We are all very busy.  Still... would anyone be willing to do some kind of Spin-A-Thon to try and raise money for ALS-TDF research?  I'll volunteer to teach for as long as needed. I'm sure I can get a gym donated from Mike K. in Hoffman Estates or Kim in Lake Forest.

If the Blazeman can't motivate you to do something here... you might want to take a look into your soul.

Merry Christmas,

"Battleship" Bob Mitera

(Click Here)
By: Kevin Mackinnon at Ironmanlive.com
Friday, November 18th, 2005

Hey Jon!

I am sitting in my living room with my wife and daughter, listening to the NBC Ironman broadcast. I heard a name that rings in my head... Johnny Blais, my Special Education Teaching Guru... the guy that gave me a book on nutrition that has a picture of himself with the words "Yo Meathead" underneath it!

Jon, I am so sorry to hear of your illness. I have spoken about you many times in my travels. I would tell people that I had a roommate in La Jolla that would leave the house near midnight and run for 15 miles. You were an inspiration to me. It sucks that I have to get in touch with you after all these years in this way... but life is funny like that.

Congratulations on Ironman, that was an amazing story and one that really touched my wife and me. Jon if you get time, please drop me a note. Better yet call me if you get an opportunity one day, my number will be below. I am no longer a teacher, my days at La Costa Canyon are done, I am now living in Lambertville, NJ. I have also moved back home to be close to my family.

I look forward to hearing from you, take care!

Best regards,

Rich Harbert

Jonathan,

I have to know. Years ago I had a student teacher at Walley School in Bristol, R. I. who was an inspiration to all of his 3rd grade students. He told me he was going to train for the Ironman in Hawaii. As I sit here on this Saturday watching the race on TV, I wonder if you are the one and the same Jonathan who inspired those little guys and girls so long ago. Last I heard from you, you were teaching in California, so, of course I would think this is you. PLEASE LET ME KNOW. I WOULD LOVE FOR YOUR PAST STUDENTS TO BE ABLE TO HEAR OF YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS. You are a wonderful example of strenghth and endurance. Hope to hear from you!!!

Sincerely,

Peggie Santos Perrotto

Johnny,

I wondered where you went, searched for you in local results after the races...we were 7 seconds apart me in our age group at Solana Beach. The guy who always had me looking over my shoulder during the run in the few races we had together in San Diego. I visited my parents on Sunday, they had recorded the Ironman while I was out of town, my mom told me that one of the guys they profiled reminded her of me. Then you showed up on screen. Unbelievable, did not tell her that I had raced next to you, and hassled you in transition. She had tears in her eyes when you were reading the "poetry" on the show because she knows that her oldest son(me) is living life as full as possible. The vocabulary you used brought hope to her in reminding her of the precious things she has to cherish in her life. Her mom(my Grandmother) had ALS. I just wanted to say thank you for the words you said in the show, for reminding me to get my ass to where I need to be, enjoying each second, because this is my life passing me by one second at a time and that loving everyone as much as possible holds more value than anything I have ever accomplished. Thank you Johnny, it was great to see you cross that finish line and even better to hear your words.

Johnny Trask


Jon,

Congratulations Ironman! What an awesome victory. I followed you throughout the day... your name was one space away from a friend (Bivens) who was also competing, so it was easy to keep tabs on both of you. I hope you will be putting your experience on your website soon... reading about your race will be great. I've read a few from other friends who raced and each experience is so unique.

I hope you don't mind if I send you emails every now and again... it is strange writing to someone I don't know, but your story has touched my life and I want to update you on how, what it has meant, etc. Strangely, I am not quite sure the effect hearing your story has had, but I know I think about you when I am on a long run and am hurting, or when I feel like stopping, or feel like not even working out in the first place. It's an odd motivation, but very effective.

As I said I would in my previous email, I forwarded the active.com story to my address book... your story is now known in Afghanistan! One of my dear friends is a navigator over there and he printed the article and read it to his crew during a flight. A lengthy conversation ensued and they are anxious to watch (hopefully) the coverage of the Ironman when it airs.

Well, Jon, keep going. I don't know what is on your agenda, but keep going. I hope you get together with ALS and do a nationwide triathlon. Heck, I've run enough 5k's for other causes, it would be awesome to do a tri to raise money for ALS.

Take care,

Susie

Its a small world Johnny...

Jonathan,

Your story has gone from San Diego to Virginia and somehow found me! My husband keeps telling me about an inspirational guy with ALS who is competing in an ironman. He tells me about your writing and how your ed mission statement brought tears to his eyes, he tells me about your spirit and how inspiring you are to him and a few of his buddys that have been following your story. So finally, I asked him more about you, since he wouldn't quit bringing you up. He said you were a Special Ed Teacher who lived in San Diego. My response, "oh really, whats his name?" Usually a stupid question that people ask when someone says they know someone from your home town of millions. When he said "Blais" and that you were a Special Ed Teacher I immediately got on your website, and couldnt believe that it was you! You are in my thoughts and prayers Johnny! You are doing amazing work! Congratuations on the Ironman! I am so happy to see that you are still at Aseltine, being an inspiration there to those kids. I have always admired your committment and drive in working with kids who so need a guy like you in their lives. I'm sure your classroom is still filled with all your "Just Do It" posters and inspirational and encouraging environment! Just wanted to let you know that your story is out here in VA (where I now live) effecting the lives of the UVA Athletic Department, and I'm sure the lives of many more whom you don't even know about. Keep writing, keep fighting, and keep inspiring so many people through your website. I also wanted to let you know that my husband, after reading your story and being affected by the work you do with kids, just contacted the Boys and Girls Club to volunteer. One man's story can indirectly effect thousands of others. If you would like to e-mail me back, I would love to hear from you. It's funny how life is and how the world works in getting your story back to me. Maybe there is something more I can do with it. Perhaps some greater purpose in having your story brought back to me??? Take Care Johnny!!! Thank you for your story, your poetry and your work!!!

Ali Brown

Jon,

I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed meeting you and your family at IM. I hope you recovered quickly enough to be able to relax and enjoy Hawaii a bit. I'm in Seattle on my way to visit family in Florida.

Please stay in touch and keep me posted on your activities. You and your parents are very much in my thoughts.

Aloha,

Bob Laird

P.S. The banner you gave me has a place of honor on my desk.

October 18th, 2005
Team Blazeman Returns Home From Their Battle...
at Green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island.


The Blazeman's Dad, Bobby San Diego, is Quoted at the Finish Line...

Post Ironman Awards Night...
Dinner Down The Street Overlooking The Pacific
On An Island They Call Kona...



Final Results

    Watch Me Finish
    (Click Here)


"Some People Said...
'This Guy Ain't Gonna Make It...'
But Guess What...
He Just Did!"
The Voice Of IRONMAN
Mike Rielly


Happy Holidays!!!
Photo Memories From Kona...
By: Kevin Mackinnon for Ironmanlive.com on Fri, December 23rd, 2005.
(Click Here)

SWIM 1:49:06     BIKE 7:45:00     RUN 6:26:55     OVERALL 16:28:56

BLAZEMAN'S FINISHING POSITION OVERALL 1671...
1st IRONMAN ALS WARRIOR POET PATIENT IN HISTORY TO FINISH IN KONA!!!
Jon and His Mom at the Finish Line
"This Is Where You Will Win The Battle... In The Playhouse Of Your Mind."

TOTAL RUN 26.2 mi. Time: (6:26:55) Pace: 14:46/mile Position: 1671

SECOND RUN SEGMENT 17.6 mi. Time: (14:19:05) Pace: 14:56 mph

Blazeman is on the run...

TRANSITION TIME BIKE - TO - RUN (T2) 12:57

TOTAL BIKE 112 mi. (7:45:00) Pace: 14.45 mph Position: 1699

BIKE FINISH 112 mi. Time: (9:49:04) Pace: 15.05 mph

FOURTH BIKE SEGMENT 87 mi. Time: (8:09:22) Pace: 15.40 mph

THIRD BIKE SEGMENT 59 mi. Time: (6:20:16) Pace: 11.81 mph

SECOND BIKE SEGMENT 32 mi. Time: (4:03:06) Pace: 16.62 mph

FIRST BIKE SEGMENT 4.75 mi. Time: (2:24:44) Pace: 13.79 mph

Blazeman is on his bike...

Blazeman is out of the water...
TOTAL SWIM 2.4 mi. Time:(1:49:06) Pace: 2:52/100m Position: 1692

TRANSITION TIME SWIM - TO - BIKE (T1) 14:58

October 15th, 2005
Blazeman steps to the Water's Edge one last time...
and becomes the only athlete with ALS (Lou Gehrigs Disease) to finish an Ironman

On October 13th, 2005 at Sunset...
Mr. Jamie Poyant & Ms. Jessica Gonsalves... Got Hitched!!!
Like I said Jess...
I Couldn't Have Done It Without You & Wouldn't Have Wanted It Any Other Way...
May Your Spirits Guide You & Protect You Both!!!
You Are A Beautiful Couple & Two Amazing People...
Love, Me
Preparing for Race Day...
    October 11th, 2005
    Blazeman and his NBC Guys...
    Pipeman and Wooman, Head Over to Ironman Village to Register.
    Blazeman is Wearing Bib #179.
    Blazeman and "TUTU" Meet the Famous "Cowman".

    October 9th, 2005
    Team Blazeman arrives in Kona...
    on the way to it's lava fields and the Queen "K" Highway.


    The Blazeman with Mom & Dad

    The Blazeman with the Kochanek's
    Heading for Kona, October 9th, 2005


    Sending Cousin Blazeman Off In Style!!!
    By: Eric Sanford

    Hi Jon,

    It has been a long time since we talked. I saw the article in the SD Union-Tribune on Sunday and to say the least, I was devastated to learn of your diagnosis. I am so sorry that this is happening to you. I spent a long time at your website, and am truly impressed by your writing. I enjoyed looking at all your pictures of all of your many activities. When we met, I instantly loved your enthusiasm and was impressed by your ability to focus on your goals. You showed me how you were willing to make sacrifices to achieve your goals while always maintaining a great sense of humor. Perhaps I can learn to apply some of your drive to my life. Any how, I guess I will continue to be impressed by you as you confront what lies ahead. Ironman? Go man go!!! I'm sure you will finish it with style.

    As for a brief history of me in the last ten years: We moved to Portland where one would think I would have loved it, but instead the cold, wet and dark weather did not agree with me, so the day after Andrea's residency ended, we hightailed it back to San Diego. I worked for a while at Sprint PCS selling phones at one of their stores, and then NiteRider lighting. That pretty much sucked. I just got a little discouraged with the whole bike biz because it is difficult to make enough money to live on. Anyhow, I finally finished my BA in Marketing in the beginning of 2002, but was unable to break into the field of marketing, mostly because I felt that I was over qualified for the jobs that I was able to get and in the recent post 9/11 the economy sucked. Then Andrea and I had a baby boy (Travis) and I ended up being stay at home dad. I did a lot of work on our house for a couple of years. Then we had a baby girl (Lola) about 9 months ago. So we ended up selling our house in Point Loma and bought an old farm house in Lemon Grove. We are in the process of upgrading the kitchen and a million other things. I have decided to get back to work. I am studying to take the Realtors license test and am hopeful that I can have success at that. We shall see.

    Anyways, I knew that you were working at REI and I would always go and check out your picture in the back. Curiously, you were never working when I was there, and I just assumed I would catch you next time. No such luck. Now I really wish I would have left my number so we could get back in touch. Ahh, regrets. Because of this, I have learned that procrastination just leads to heartache. So now I am thinking about you and trying not to dwell on the what ifs etc. etc. I know that you are a busy man but I am hoping that you will take a moment to drop me a line some time. Right now I have a million things running through my mind. I am wondering how I might be able to help you maximize your life. According to your site, the treatment of ALS is pretty much no where, but I am wondering if there are other treatments outside of the mainstream that are showing promise. No doubt you have looked at them to some degree. I have a friend who is a neurosurgeon. I will ask him if he has any ideas about how to approach this thing. He may know of someone somewhere who is working with ALS and has promising new treatments or something. If that doesn't turn up something to our liking, I will search further.

    Anyhow, I hope that as you read this you are feeling well and know that not only am I thinking about you, but so are hundreds of other people that you have touched.

    Blaze on Jon.

    Love,

    George Herman

    Jon,

    Leave it to you to break my heart and lift it up at the same time! I’ve spent the past hour going over your website and marveling at the man who’s emerged from the boy I used to know. I am SO proud of you – not only for what you are about to undertake in Kona but the way you have always chosen to live your life. If people went through their lives with just a quarter of your conviction and energy, the world would be a much happier place. You are without a doubt my role model (something I never thought I would say when we were growing up!) and I’m going to try not to let you down. You are often in my thoughts and prayers these days and I just wanted you to know that. No matter how it goes down in Hawaii I think you’ve already achieved Ironman status. Have a great race!

    Love,

    Jill


    Love At First Sight...Late September, 2005
    The Comfort Inn
    Seekonk, Massachusetts
    Team Blazeman & Co.
    FREEDOM!!!

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