Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Average Guy Proved to be far from Average

This post is a tribute to Zak Branigan who used the circumstance of his wife's breast cancer diagnosis to become far from average. Over a year ago, Zak and his beautiful bride, Moira, were devastated with news that Moria had an aggressive form of Breast Cancer that needed attention immediately. On top of the diagnosis, they were new parents and Moria was about to lose her job thanks to the tanking economy. I would never say Zak was average at that moment in his life, but wherever he was at, he decided to dominate....or Hit the Road as he says.

Zak was encouraged by his beautiful bride to go after something, so Hitting the Road he did! He started to blog his journey (a must read) and even got a Brooks sponsorship. During all of this I was fortunate enough to meet Zak and Moira who were the first young couple I had met in the area facing the same kind of fears of being both young with a cancer diagnosis and having the same kind of struggles to communicate to others. What a great connection at the right time.

Eventually, Moira domianted her breast cancer and Zak wanted to continue to do more. He had run his first half marathon and dropped a ton of weight. At this time I was about to take on my major treatment and I had a strong desire to use my platform as a former UM placekicker to build awareness for Multiple Myeloma, an incurable blood cancer, mostly known as an "older person disease." I wanted to give Multiple Myeloma a new face and find a cure and Zak wanted to help.

So Zak signed up to be the force behind getting all the paper work to the State, working with the graphic designer, and all that other fun stuff that people rarely get credit for to ensure that the Cancer Kicker Foundation was properly established. All of this happened while I was in the middle of my battle; not to mention dex crazes and probably some chemo brain. I still tell Zak today that if all Cancer Kicker becomes is a couple of Dominate Shirts that sport my school colors and my cancer colors, I am set for seven days a week!

Just this month Zak completed his goal of running in a marathon. He dominated Chicago and finished exactly in the middle, or Average in terms of time. It's been made clear to me that Zak is far from Average and he has the energy, mental disciple and the wife to help him pursue his dreams and passions. In 2011, Zak is going to return his focus to the things that got him on this path and provided a heck-of-a-lot of support. One of those things was and is still today the Wellness Community of Southeast Detroit. My family has supported them over the last few years and their service for cancer patients and their families is top notch.

I want to thank Zak and Moria for all they have done personally and the role they played in establishing the Cancer Kicker Foundation as non-profit that WILL Dominate Multiple Myeloma and Inspire many more dominators to Hit the Road and dare to be as "average" as Zak.

Thanks Zak and many blessings as you continue to Hit the Road! We are behind you 100% as you return to your original focus and you continue to inspire many. Thanks for holding the baton this year.

I love you man,


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