Matt was a competitive athlete his entire life.
As a member of his high school basketball team, he was required to run in the Brooklyn/Queens X-country Championships. With no prior running experience, he finished fifth for his school, completing the race in uncomfortable high top sneakers.
As an adult, his maintained his athleticism. As a New York City firefighter, strength and endurance were paramount. He was a distance runner and competed in Ironman triathlons. He trimmed 30 minutes off his personal best to run a 3:13 in the ING NYC marathon, qualifying for the 2006 Boston event.
And then Matt’s life changed in an instant.
He was cycling to work in the early morning when he was struck and run over by a 20-ton bus making an illegal turn.
The injuries he sustained pushed him to the brink of death.He received 68 units of blood in the first 40 hours after the accident and spent 5 months in the hospital. More than 40 operations later, he finally began a grueling rehabilitation regime.
His doctor had told him he’d be lucky to ever walk again without a cane.
Matt found the psychological consequences of the accident nearly as hard to process as the physical severities. After the accident, Matt fought through months of fear, despair, loneliness, and intense physical and psychological pain, hoping against hope to regain the life he once had.
And, miraculously, he did.
His recovery was unprecedented. He didn’t just learn to walk without a cane. No, a mere three years later, he ran the 2008 New York City Marathon.
Matt’s story was covered in a wildly popular article in the March 2009 edition of Runner’s World magazine. Matt has since chronicled his life and journey both before and after the accident in his book The Long Run. Matt also started the I WILL Foundation which provides coaching, training and financial support to help people overcome adversity and challenges caused by illness or traumatic injury.
“Running saved my life,” Matt says, and his determination and perseverance has turned him into a symbol of hope and recovery for countless others.
What is your most inspiring activity?