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Jon Blais: challenged ALS, raged against the dying of the light

Jon Blais: challenged ALS, raged against the dying of the light

 "The most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well."  -Baron de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games

With all the courageous overcomers who have been drawn to Ironman Hawaii, none have exemplified those words better than the Blazeman. Diagnosed with attention deficit disorder as a child, his principal advised him to pack it in and attend a trade school. Instead, Blais attended Rhode Island College and became a special education teacher to help kids like himself. In 1995, he moved to triathlon mecca San Diego and took a job working with children with emotional problems. Diagnosed in 2005 with inevitably fatal amyotrophic lateral sclerosis - better known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease - he refused to surrender to the neuro-degenerative muscle wasting disease and managed to finish all 140.6 miles of the 2005 Ironman, beating the odds and fighting an arm and a leg that barely functioned. With half an hour to spare, he did his patented Blazeman log roll across the finish line. Jon Blais died of ALS in May 27 2007, but his spirit lives on as countless men and women now finish Kona doing the Blazeman roll.

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