I am #betterbecause My Sensei Holeman instilled in me confidence to stand tall and always be conscious of how I affect people around me.
During grade school, karate became my primary sport. I stuck with it through High School earning my black belt at age 14. I even started teaching at age 16. One thing was abundantly clear even when I was 10 years old. My Sensei didn’t teach us how to fight, he taught us how not to fight. He taught us how to be conscious of those around us. One of my favorite stories he would tell is about his two grandmothers. One saw life as a chore and always had a negative view. The other was a positive and energetic woman that as a kid and adult he always looked forward to visit. When the first Grandmother died, he didn’t shed a tear and in fact was happy she might be in a better place than this life she thought was so tough. The other lived a long life and when she died, he cried and misses her to this day. I am Better Because Sensei Randy Holeman taught me from a young age to think about who I am going to be and how that affects those around me. Am I going to see all that’s wrong in the world or someone who brings light and love to those who I have the pleasure to meet? I choose the latter.
On September 5, 2015 – the weekend prior to my first 70.3 IRONMAN – on a routine training bicycle ride, I lost control of my bike on downhill switchbacks, crossed over the oncoming lane and went over the side of a hill.
I had a broken collar bone, several cracked ribs, a 70% collapsed lung, and worst of all a L1 burst fracture in the lumbar spine. The very next day after my fall, the doctors performed a spinal fusion. It has left me paralyzed in a wheelchair without any feeling or control of my legs. From the moment after my surgery, I set a goal to race a triathlon within a year. With the amazing help of my family and friends, I was able to raise the funds to get a handcycle, racing wheelchair, and wetsuit. I went on to compete in not only the Santa Cruz Triathlon, but also Oakland Tri and Malibu Tri. Since then I’ve been able to compete in now four 70.3 IRONMAN races, the LA Marathon, Marin Century ride, and numerous other races and rides. This past June I qualified for both the IRONMAN World Championships in Kona and IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships in France, after failing to even complete the qualifying IRONMAN 70.3 last year.
“To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882) American Essayist & Poet