Friday, June 23, 2017
Fundraising Friday: Spotlight on Thor Kirleis and the Inaugural Fenway Park Marathon
Thor Kirleis, whose first name means “Thunder,” has been involved in endurance sports for over 30 years. He is now 47 years old. The power of the run was something Thor learned about early on in his career. Competing in endurance events gave Thor the confidence that he could do whatever it was that he set his mind to and he has been living life outside of his comfort zone for over 3 decades.
While Thor’s individual accomplishments are quite impressive, over 100 Marathons, Ironman races, qualified and competed in TEAM USA in the ITU Long Course (Triathlon) World Championships proudly representing the US in international competition, Ultra runs across the Colorado Rockies, the Canadian Rockies, and the Grand Canyon (just to name a few), he is happiest and most proud of when he can use his passion to help others.
In May of 2014, Thor paced and guided Randy Pierce, a blind runner, to a Boston Qualifier at the Cox Providence Marathon. You can read their feel good to the goosebumps inspirational story by following this link. It was through this remarkable story that Randy, Thor and I became friends in social media land.
Instead of tailoring a training season to achieve a personal best by the time on the clock, Thor offered to pace friends in their races to help them achieve their goals.
Doing good, giving back and love of children is an integral part of who Thor is. Since having two children of his own, now 4 and 3 years old, he has made a concerted effort to do more for others, especially children, so that he can teach his children by example that helping others is a part of being human. He is passionate about equality and social justice and wears a rainbow singlet in his important races to support his LGBT friends and the broader community.
Flying kites with his beautiful children:
So one would think that given Thor’s incredible record of endurance events and his desire and passion to do good would make it somewhat easy for him to run the inaugural Fenway Marathon in September raising funds for the Red Sox Foundation. Raising funds was never something Thor has been comfortable doing and he is stepping way outside of his comfort zone to ask for donations.
But there’s a lot more to the story….
In the span of two months beginning in June of 2015, Thor went from finishing 6th place overall in a 55 mile ultra marathon to not being able to run at all. By the end of July, Thor knew something was very wrong with him. He was so fatigued that his body just could not get up and run. He went through a battery of tests and no one could find out what was happening to Thor’s body. He was given a diagnosis by Western Medicine of Sjogrens Syndrome, an autoimmune disease and treated him as though he were terminally ill. Thor had two thoughts as he stared at the tissue box on the table in the doctor’s office, “A syndrome is a collection of symptoms. It doesn’t tell you why and we never fully pursued Lyme. He found an Osteopath who was willing to look into Lyme and the rough road of healing began. Through sheer will and determination, Thor ran the 2017 Boston Marathon.
Here is a photo of Thor at the 2017 Doyles 5 Mile Race:
When the opportunity to run the inaugural Fenway Park Marathon presented itself, Thor decided to see if he would be one of the 50 runners chosen to participate and commit to raising $5,000 for The Red Sox Foundation. Even though he is from New York (so am I) he is a Red Sox convert (just like me) and was excited to embrace the opportunity to run laps inside Fenway Park for 26.2 miles. The Red Sox Foundation has always been a favorite charity of Thor’s because of its affiliation with the Jimmy Fund. The core of their work supports the children in our local community and also benefits The Home Base Foundation caring for our veterans.
He is currently in the throes of a flare of his symptoms. He is getting in miles any way he can feeling inspired by the company of his son Camden. Like me, and that is why we are kindred spirits, Thor refuses to be bound by his limitations of any moment. He wrote this on Facebook yesterday, “Come September 15th, I will have raised, with your help, $5000 for supporting local kids in our community, and I will participate in the Fenway Park Marathon.”
I have every confidence that Thor WILL cross that finish line of 26.2 miles in the inaugural Fenway Park Marathon. He needs your help to exceed his fund raising goal of $5000. Please follow this link and donate whatever you are able to donate for Thor, for the children, for the veterans and for yourself because life isn’t meant to be lived with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. It’s so important to be able to throw something back.
Go the distance with strength and courage!
Be sure to visit my website by following this link.
My books are available on Amazon.
Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life
Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing Hope and Possibility that chronicles the first 7 years of my healing journey:
And my latest and greatest book - Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance (With a Foreword by Jacqueline Hansen):