TORONTO, July 31 (UPI) — Anger and defiance are fuellng a brain-damaged Canadian man running a marathon a day across the country who was told he never would walk again.
David McGuire, 38, began his run April 1 in St. John’s, Newfoundland, on “A Run to Remember,” named for his short-term memory loss from a massive stroke five years ago.
McGuire worked as a debt collector for a national bank when he collapsed at work and went into a coma. Doctors removed and later replaced a piece of his skull on the left side to alleviate swelling.
McGuire now keeps his hair cut short to show the C-shaped scar on his scalp as he runs on behalf of Braintrust Canada, a charity devoted to the prevention of brain injuries. The group’s Web site quotes McGuire as saying, “I’m just a guy with a brain injury, but I can run.”
His mission hasn’t gained much national media coverage in Canada, although McGuire is in his sixth of 10 provinces, just short of halfway across the country.
In a series of interviews with UPI, McGuire said this week he was still trying to adapt to the changes the stroke caused. He jokes frequently about not remembering where he was the day before and said when he sees videos of his wedding reception with wife Mandy, he recognizes everyone, but not the event.
McGuire’s agenda involves a 25-mile marathon a day, although he stops almost daily to speak to schoolchildren, sports and civic groups about the importance of preventing brain injuries, specifically concussions.
The long-term effects of concussions are increasingly being reported as athletes from the National Football League, the National Hockey League and Canadian Football League come forward with brain injury-related degenerative conditions.
McGuire said he’s happy to see publicity by celebrity sports figures. However, he said, brain injuries are life-changing for non-celebrities.
For him, not in a good way.
“I went through a year of deep clinical depression,” he said. “But it was seeing the other people who were worse off than me that sort of shook me into doing this [run].”
Braintrust Canada’s director of communications, Magda Kapp, told UPI fundraising was below target, but there was hope it would progress the further McGuire goes.
“The operational cost of the run is $150,000 and we’re nowhere near that,” she said. “However, there’s cost and then there’s value.
“How can you put a value on what David’s done so far? How many brain injuries have been avoided? How many kids looked at his scar and learned a lesson for life?”
Ironically, the first company to take up the run’s corporate donation challenge was outside Canada.
Communicare Michigan, which operates residential care and treatment facilities for patients with brain injuries and developmental disabilities, came forward with a pledge of $7,230, a dollar for each kilometer McGuire runs.
That equates to 4,492 miles.
In the meantime, McGuire is running north and west with a goal of reaching Victoria, British Columbia, in late November. He told UPI he’s turning his frustration into energy to put one foot in front of the other in his cross-country run.
“I don’t know if my brain injury could’ve been prevented, but so many other people could avoid this if they’d just think.”