He Runs, He Stumbles, He Rises

Jonathan Davidson is a father, husband, fellow MS Warrior and advocate and oh yes — a Marathon Man! Less than a year after being married, his first MS attack manifested itself in 2001 over a period of a couple months affecting his feet, legs, torso, hands, and arms. In the prime of his life he was diagnosed with the Relapsing Remitting form of the disease and immediately started treatment that kept him stable.

In 2005, after the birth of his first child, he feared the unknown journey of his condition and had a new motivation to stay strong. Isn’t it funny how these little people come into our lives and push us further than we thought possible?

Jonathan made the decision to be proactive about his health and to become stronger than his MS. As he shared with me, “I felt like the better shape I was in physically, apart from the MS, the better I could deal with whatever this disease would throw at me. So I started training for and completed my first 5k four months after her birth, followed by my second 5k a couple of months later. I then signed up and completed a 10K and then a half marathon about a year after her birth. Six months later I completed the Marine Corp marathon, 1.5 years after starting this running journey.”

After that initial success, Jonathan set a goal to run a marathon (26.2 miles) in all 50 states by the time he turned 50. With the support and encouragement of his loving family and many others cheering along, he will achieve that goal 2.5 years early!

While his journey has been nothing less than remarkable, he has had to overcome a few challenges along the way. Experiencing a frustrating MS side effect called “foot drop” halfway through training runs and crashing to the pavement in a couple marathons might have deterred many from continuing onward. Not Jonathan. Instead, he learned to compensate for the dragging foot by focusing on lifting it a little higher with each step. His plan is to prevent tripping and finish each race injury-free. He also chooses to focus not on the number of times that he struggled but instead on all the marathons–up to 19 over a two year period — that he did NOT stumble. He and his neurologist agree that the physical activity has allowed him to better defend himself against possible deterioration of his condition.

While I’m the furthest thing from a marathon runner, I do believe in the power of physical activity, no matter what life is throwing my way. I work out 5 days per week in my little home gym and even though it’s often a struggle and I rather despise exercise, I absolutely LOVE the way I feel afterward! The benefits are both physical AND mental for sure!

In an excerpt from my book…”I learned the importance of physical activity from my dad, who until the age of 84, ran two miles every other day for as long as I can remember. … Like my dad, I know that when you keep your body moving, you’re in a stronger and more defensive mode.” So whether you’re running marathons like my amazing friend, Jonathan, pedaling on a stationary bike, lifting weights, doing yoga or strolling your neighborhood, just keep moving in whatever way you can.

Jonathan shares this piece of advice with anyone coping with a challenge: “Realize that every hard day you have ever had, you have been successful at getting through/passed it. I also like to say that one should focus on their blessings in life as well as focus on what you can still do, don’t focus on what has been lost or taken away. That is easy to say, not always easy to do. Reach out for support, don’t be afraid to ask for help, develop a support system and then rely on it.”

Jonathan proves that we all must STUMBLE in order to ultimately RISE!

About Gina Whitlock Fletcher

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