Are You Limerick’s Biggest Sports Fan?

first_imgEmail Twitter Previous articleBriefs from the arts worldNext articledu Preez signs for Munster admin Sports Fans’ Dream Job!The Magners League is offering the opportunity of a lifetime to one lucky member of the public to become the ‘Magners League Professional Fan’ for this current season.Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter Sign Up The many benefits to this dream job include seats at Magners League games, meeting rugby stars, getting to know team managers and trainers, travel, (some) fame and the appreciation of new-found fans.The winner must be available to attend matches in every round from December through to next May’s grand final. They will work with the Setanta Sports production team, interviewing players and fans as well as providing match summaries and their own blog. What more could a sports fan wish for?Applications will be taken up until November 24th, 2009. For further details visit Advertisement Facebookcenter_img WhatsApp NewsLocal NewsAre You Limerick’s Biggest Sports Fan?By admin – November 10, 2009 430 Print Linkedinlast_img read more

Runner with Parkinson’s finishes Boston Marathon

first_imgELLSWORTH — For Michael Westphal, running the Boston Marathon was not the most nerve-racking thing he did over the weekend.“I knew I could do the marathon,” says Westphal, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease.Speaking in front of some 500 people — including his hero — was a different story.Westphal, a 58-year-old carpenter who lives on Great Cranberry Island, was a guest speaker at the 10th annual Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research awards banquet in New York City last Friday night.This is placeholder textThis is placeholder textWith Michael J. Fox in the audience, Westphal worried how his dyskinesia — or excessive movement — might affect his speech. But when Westphal stepped up on the stage, his symptoms seemed to disappear, as they so often do when he runs.He told his story from the beginning, when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 10 years ago:Michael Westphal, left, meets his hero, Michael J. Fox, at the foundation’s annual awards banquet on Friday. PHOTO BY GARY ALLEN“At first, I didn’t quite believe it. I’d been an athlete all my life, competing in track and cross-country in college, and then road races after that. I just couldn’t understand why my body was failing me.”Last summer, Westphal decided to test his body’s limits. He finished the Great Run marathon on his home island as a fundraiser for the Michael J. Fox Foundation. His time of three hours, 32 minutes and 56 seconds qualified him for the Boston Marathon, and the $38,000 he raised earned him an invitation to speak at the foundation’s banquet for its top donors.“He’s the bravest man I’ve ever known,” says Gary Allen, Westphal’s neighbor and childhood friend, who accompanied him to both the banquet and the marathon. “But you could feel his nerves.”From Mount Desert Island, Westphal and Allen hit the road at 4 a.m. Friday. When they reached their hotel in the Big Apple, Allen says he squeezed in a quick nap and woke to Westphal softly reciting his speech.“The symptoms were fairly mild at first, but still, I didn’t run much because I was embarrassed of the way I looked. … The stiffness eventually went away, but soon, the other symptoms took its place.”Throughout their weekend spent together, Allen witnessed the daily challenges of living with Parkinson’s disease. Sometimes, before his medication kicked in during the mornings, Westphal struggled to tie his shoes, reach into his pockets or grab something from the backseat of the car.“Simple things are a challenge for him,” Allen says. “And yet he’s going to run the world’s toughest marathon.”“My biggest fear was that my active life, perhaps even my happiness in life, would be lost forever.”Clad in his Team Fox jersey Monday, Westphal took off at the start of the Boston Marathon with his brother, Rolf, to raise more money for the foundation. Crowds of spectators lined the 26.2-mile course — a far bigger turnout than the last time Westphal finished the marathon 20 years ago.“Last time I ran it, there weren’t nearly as many people,” Westphal says. “My sons commented how hard it was to get to side of the road.”Westphal says he didn’t encounter any problems with his Parkinson’s in the first 18 miles. But the combination of the heat, distance and his fading medication eventually started to wear on him.In an effort to not repeat his Great Run finish, where Westphal fell twice in the final stretch, the two brothers slowed their pace for the last few miles. After all, Westphal’s only goal was to finish.“Gary Allen told me to savor the moment,” Westphal says.Westphal did just that. He stopped along the way to hug friends and family. Photos of Westphal captured him smiling and waving his hat in the air.Westphal’s brother grabbed his hand, and they raised their arms as they crossed the finish line in 3:38:59.Westphal raised more than $19,000 through his second fundraiser, totaling almost $60,000 for the foundation.Michael Westphal poses with Joan Benoit Samuelson, a Maine native and the first-ever women’s Olympic marathon gold medalist, at the Boston Marathon on Monday. PHOTO BY MARY ROPP“I’ve gotten amazing support,” Westphal says. “People are awfully generous.”Westphal’s story continues to spread. He was featured in an ESPN article prior to the marathon. He says strangers stopped him five or six times at the race to ask him, “Are you the one from the ESPN story?”Westphal also got to chat with running legends throughout the day, such as Bill Rodgers, Billy Mills, Roberta Gibb and Joan Benoit Samuelson.But the most significant person he got to meet over the weekend was his idol, Michael J. Fox, who also suffers from Parkinson’s.“He’s very funny,” Westphal says of Fox. “He said he wasn’t much of a runner. I knew he loved hockey.”So they talked about hockey.“His symptoms are evident,” Allen says of Fox. “You could tell his struggles are real, too.”“A few years ago, I was watching TV, and I happened to see an interview with Michael J. Fox, and that changed my outlook. Michael, you don’t let Parkinson’s determine how you live your life. I was so inspired by your attitude, I decided to adopt the same attitude myself. I was going to be a fighter, not a victim.”Allen says Westphal received a standing ovation for his speech at the banquet.“When people stood up and clapped for an extended period of time, you knew he had touched the room,” Allen says.Throughout the eventful weekend, it was a simple moment that touched Westphal the most.Before his speech, Westphal says he was “moving around quite a bit” during dinner. His dyskinesia comes in waves, depending on the timing of his medication.“I was telling my son that I wished I hadn’t had so much dyskinesia,” Westphal says, to which his son, Gabriel, responded:“Dad, I only find it more endearing.”“That made me feel better,” Westphal says. “It just gave me the confidence to go out there and do what I had to do.”“Ten years ago, I wasn’t sure how happy I would be. This has turned out to be one of the most fulfilling years of my life.”Westphal’s story isn’t over. He plans to run the Great Run marathon again in June and continue his fundraising efforts for the Michael J. Fox Foundation.To donate to Westphal’s fundraiser, visit stories from the race: Fifteen Hancock County runners competed in Monday’s Boston Marathon. Below are some of their experiences.Jim Newett: Despite a calf injury that has troubled him since December, Jim Newett, 58, of Ellsworth finished his 21st consecutive Boston Marathon on Monday. Newett has been training for the 26.2-mile race for the past several months in the pool.“It’s a decent workout, but it wasn’t that spiritual release that I enjoy from running,” Newett said. “For me this was kind of just about keeping the streak alive.”Newett had an unexpected guest at his hotel room the morning of the race when his son, who lives in Colorado, made the trip to surprise his dad.“It was really special,” Newett said. “Both my children were there, along with my wife.”Newett, the principal of Ellsworth Middle School, also said he found support in the letters of encouragement he received from his students. He finished the marathon 1,182nd in his division and 19,983rd overall in 4:16:46.“I just wanted to maintain my streak,” Newett said. “I get a sense of pride out of that.”Gary Allen: Gary Allen, 59, of the Cranberry Isles wasn’t sure about running this Boston Marathon.“I’ve had a rough year for being a distance runner,” said Allen, who has suffered from plantar fasciitis, Lyme disease and, most recently, a worn meniscus in his knee.Allen was signed up for the race, but he didn’t decide to run it until a few days prior, when he found some inspiration in his friend, Michael Westphal. Westphal, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, planned to finish the marathon to raise money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation.“After being around Mike and seeing his struggles, I had to at least try,” Allen says. “I wouldn’t feel good if I didn’t.”The race marked Allen’s 100th career marathon. He finished 1,521st in his division and 25,676th overall in 5:26:54.“I had to dig kind of deep to keep going,” Allen says. “But I just thought of my friend Mike Westphal.”Robin Clarke: Robin Clarke, 46, of Ellsworth finished her second Boston Marathon this year. She entered her first after the 2013 bombings.“After the bombings, I wanted to show my support,” Clarke said. “I want everyone to know we’re not scared.”Clarke finished 583rd in her division and 14,134th overall in 3:50:50.“It’s an honor to be there,” Clarke said. “You’re in with all these runners who worked hard to get there. It’s very emotional.”Clarke said she was teary-eyed when she crossed the finish line. When asked how she felt the next day, Clarke laughed.“I’m resting and eating everything I can get my hands on,” she said.Other Hanock County runners’ results:Lori Bartlett, 47, of Bar Harbor finished 1,806th in her division and 25,394th overall in 5:19:25.Katrina Bisheimer, 50, of Bucksport finished 502nd in her division and 16,874th overall in 4:00:18.Katherine Degrass, 29, of Bar Harbor finished 2,535th in her division and 11,682nd overall in 3:42:48.Matt Homich, 28, of Ellsworth finished 957th in his division and 1,306th overall in 2:58:59.Britt Hulbert-Sosa, 46, of Bar Harbor finished 1,561st in her division and 21,723rd overall in 4:29:00.Aaron Long, 36, of Bar Harbor finished 3,358th in his division and 11,424th overall in 3:41:54.Melissa Ossanna, 46, of Bar Harbor finished 1,442nd in her division and 20,647th overall in 4:21:10.Andy Pereira, 47, of Southwest Harbor finished 211th in his division and 2,408th overall in 3:07:15.Kassandra Strout, 25, of Trenton finished 2,420th in her division and 11,261st overall in 3:41:24.Andrew Tiemann, 58, of Ellsworth finished 223rd in his division and 7,807th overall in 3:30:17.Jennifer Vandongen, 38, of Bar Harbor finished 491st in his division and 4,512nd in 3:18:07.Michael Westphal, 58, of Cranberry Isles finished 435th in his division and 10,468th overall in 3:38:58. Bio Part 2: When the injury is inside your head, some “don’t get it” – July 26, 2016 Taylor VorthermsSports Editor at The Ellsworth AmericanTaylor Vortherms covers sports in Hancock County. The St. Louis, Missouri native recently graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism and joined The Ellsworth American in 2013. EHS names new boys’ soccer coach – July 13, 2016center_img Latest Posts Part 1: Invisible, incapacitating concussions are sidelining high school athletes – July 19, 2016 Latest posts by Taylor Vortherms (see all)last_img read more