New this year – He handed off the microphone for a super special tribute.
I did something on race day I had never done in all my 169 IRONMANS. Something that probably could have been done with many other well deserving souls but I just didn’t think about doing it. A young man by the name of Nicholas Purschke was with us all week. He choose through the Make-A-Wish foundation to come to Kona to see the World Championship. This is a 12 yr old from the USA that could have choose to meet his favorite professional baseball, football, or basketball player as most kids his age would. But his wish was to come to IRONMAN! A wish he was granted as he is battling a deadly genetic disease called ALD that affects 1 in 18,000, most severely in boys. He was a charm all week, always with a smile meeting his heroes. Witnessing his positive attitude and joyful outlook was inspiring beyond words. Now what did I do. It was about 11:30 pm and Nicolas was with his family at the finish watching and cheering as we all were. The look in his face watching each finisher was priceless. The many times I looked his way I would get a little flutter in my heart. An adult thought of I hope Nicolas gets to tell his grandkids about IRONMAN and his day among his heroes. I walked over to him to give him a high five, he was above me in the VIP section. I found myself asking “Nicolas do you want to call the next finisher an IRONMAN?” He had a little look of shock on his face, he turned to his Mom as she was was shaking her head yes then back to me saying “Yes I would!”. I introduced the crowd to Nicholas and told them what we were going to do. They cheered their acceptance. I told him you have to be loud, you have to bring it from deep down, just let it loose, let everyone know the next finisher is an IRONMAN! I told him I would say the person’s name and then you let them have it. Here she came our next finisher, I called out her name and quickly handed the microphone to Nicolas and with a loud. clear, and passionate voice beyond his 12 years he roared ‘YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!”. Our finisher raised her arms and the crowd roared their immense approval. He absolutely nailed it and the look of joy on his face will be a look I take to my grave! NICHOLAS IN MY MIND AND I AM SURE EVERYONE’S “YOU ARE OUR IRONMAN!”