10 March 2008

Matt Leibowitz

As you know, I run for a dear friend of mine that has a disease known as NF2. The chief research foundation is the Childrens Tumor Foundation. Every time I run a marathon, I do it with pride in an "NF Marathon Team" Yellow Jersey. Late last week I got an email for a "Caring Run Request" from Steve, the team's director. If one of our heroes is struggling, we send out an email and do a run with that person in our hearts and minds. Talk about motivation. In our basement, I ran 5 miles in 33:31, without even the TV on. This Caring Run was for Matt Leibowitz.

I never personally met Matt but have always admired his tenacity, often finishing races no matter what.

Matt passed away Saturday from complications of NF at the age of 32. I've included below the "Caring Run" email I received late last week, after Matt was admitted to the hospital with a tumor found to be inoperable.

Celebrating the capacity of the human spirit to overcome adversity

A Caring Run Request

Beyond the awareness generation and the fundraising, our NF Endurance/Marathon team plays another important role for the members who are touched in some way by neurofibromatosis. We provide a sense of family and support that is very real and very heartfelt. Beyond the physical manifestations, NF can leave a family feeling rather alone and isolated at times. With well over 1000 active members committed to enabling treatments and a cure for NF, we do all we can to eliminate that feeling for all on our team. We care, and we care at a very deep and personal level about our fellow teammates and their loved ones who are struggling.

I'd like to ask all of you to think about Matt Leibowitz this week as you run or train. Matt is a true NF Hero, and is need of our support now. He has inspired and touched literally thousands of people at the events he's participated in. One of the more common questions we get on the course from people we meet is "What's NF?" When they see Matt Leibowitz riddled with tumors and struggling with each step to the finish line, we don't get the question. . . .they know.

Just a few weeks ago Matt lost his sister Holly to complications from NF. He wasn't able to visit her in the hospital, due to being too weak to travel due to reconstructive surgery in October to his foot. Now, Matt too is in the hospital. He has a tumor in his chest that has grown significantly, and has been told it is malignant and inoperable. He is receiving daily doses of chemo and radiation and had a tracheotomy this week to make breathing easier for him.

His mantra to all of us has always been to "Never raise that white flag of surrender!" If you're getting this email, I have a feeling that those are more than just words on a page to you. So, please, lace 'em up for Matt this week! Run, pray, send positive energy his way. He and his family need our support in this most difficult time.


Steve Kendra

Director, NF Endurance/Marathon Team


Steve Stenzel said...

Wow. Rest in peace, Matt.

kurt decker said...

Thanks for sharing

Nitmos said...

These stories are always emotionally overpowering. And a reminder of what is truly important.

bill carter said...

Stories like that always get me pretty choked up. I always feel so fortunate that my friends and family are for the most part pretty healthy. When I see someone like Matt show such in courage in the face of something so awful, wow..

Best of luck with your training.

The Laminator said...

Thanks for the motivation. Will keep him in mind for my run today.

Jess said...

That's an honorable reason to run and it makes it thankful that you're healthy enough to do so. Thanks for sharing.

David said...

Godspeed, Matt! I'll do my best for you this weekend.

Triseverance said...

Great Story, thank you for sharing it. What an amazing person Matt was.

Lily on the Road said...

Rest in peace Matt, it truly makes me thankful for all the health and resources I have and sometimes take for granted.

God Bless