Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Two subjects I have no interest in discussing on here: politics and religion. However, today I want to tell you about my new friend, Elton, who’s story makes your heart hurt no matter what side of the Health Care debate you’re on. His story literally made it from the running trails, to the headlines of a local Maryland paper, the whole way to the Washington Post.

During the holidays, I was invited to my friend’s Christmas party. As I walked in, I felt like I was at a VIP party of Who’s Who’s of distance running for the region, more specifically the Who’s Who’s of ultramarathons, including past winners and Race Director of the JFK 50 Miler (one of the most historic ultras in the U.S.)

During the night, I quickly became settled in talking to a very unassuming older man about running strategies. As time pasted, I quickly learned so much about Elton’s life from being a standout distance runner in his early years, to one day deciding to start training 100+ miles a week, to launching himself to JFK ultramarathon history. It’s funny, because I didn’t learn any of this from him. Rather it was from the people who continued to come up and shake hands with him and drop comments such as “you’re talking to the ledged” or inquiring about his health. I believe this speaks volumes to Elton’s character, a very humble individual who has the gift to captivate your full attention and teach you a few life lessons along the way. Throughout the night I kept thinking to myself how I wish I could pull out my Blackberry and Google Elton’s name so I could get the full scoop.

After the party, I hustled to my laptop and clicked through numerous hits…

Here is a quick statement from the JFK crew that sums up Elton’s story:
“Thank you to everyone who so generously contributed to help Elton Horst (the '71 JFK 50 Champ and former course record holder who fell between the "cracks" of medical insurance coverage) pay off his $5,000 in outstanding medical bills associated with his current heart condition --mitra valve prolapse. The JFK 50 Mile Family really stepped-up to help one of our own. We are now trying to continue to raise funds for Elton in order to help him purchase medical insurance to bridge-him-over until he qualifies for Medicare when he turns 65 in December 2010. Elton will eventually need surgery to correct his condition.”

Below is the Washington Post story on Elton (very well written, so I’ll let the professionals really explain his story)….

Meeting Elton and learning his story reaffirmed my belief that runners from all walks of life are some of the kindest individuals, despite what side of the political arena we find ourselves. After reading the Post article I hope you can reflect and find your “Elton” in your life and help make a difference. If you have any interest in helping Elton, please email me: ryanpconrad@gmail.com and I would be glad to pass along Elton’s contact info.

The human contribution is the essential ingredient. It is only in the giving of oneself to others than we truly live.

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