Veteran Inspires at The Boilermaker
A photo of a Marine Corps veteran as he pauses along the Boilermaker 15K race course has gone viral. While the man was among the last finishers of the race, he has inspired many with his perseverance.
Kali Fical was manning the Boilermaker water station at the corner of Genesee Street and Shepherd Place, as the man came through. He'd paused to catch his breath with the police escort that follows the final runner close behind. The sun over his shoulder cast the shadow of the man and his prosthetic leg on the hot pavement in front of him. The sight was so moving and inspiring, Fical took a photo that has gone viral.
An injured veteran, the last person to come through our water table at Boilermaker 2017. After stopping to rest like this for a few moments, I will forever remember watching him look up at everyone clapping for him and seeing him tear up. Sometimes I forget how lucky I am to be where I am in my life. It's people like this man who make you take a step back and realize how lucky you are each and every day. Thank you for your service and all you sacrificed to keep us safe and God Bless you.
As the photo spread throughout social media, others were equally moved and inspired.
Using another photo that showed the man's bib number, we discovered his name is Darth Vader who owns Allegiant Fitness in Canandaigua, NY. Mr. Vader had his leg amputated earlier this year after a 1995 injury left him with very limited use of his leg, as reported by the Tough Mudder blog. He's also a cancer survivor, after fighting leukemia back in 2002.
He completed the race in 3:26:48. Darth Vader's Facebook profile tells us The Boilermaker is hardly the first physical feat he has accomplished. He's completed the Tough Mudder 77 times, a half-marathon 66 times, a triathlon 9 times and a full marathon 4 times. Mr. Vader is also a United States Marine veteran and a father.
This man reminds us of how much we have to be grateful for, and how much we can accomplish despite great obstacles. Thank you, Darth Vader.