Gratitude, Spirit & Social Media

The past two weeks have been nothing short of magical. It all started with Hurricane Sandy, and culminated in the most pure and beautiful moment of my life, save the birth of my two children.  Dad and I

Let me explain:

Since the first week in July I had been training to run in the New York City ING Marathon. I was running to raise money to battle ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). You see, my father Adrian Dessi is living with the disease. After months of training I was excited to experience this uniquely New York event. With two young girls under the age of 5, and my Dad in a wheelchair, we all decided it would be easier logistically if I ran the marathon, met up with my wife Laura,  and then headed up to my Brother’s afterward to celebrate. No pomp and circumstance just fulfill my obligation to the friends and family that had donated their hard earned money, meet up with my wife, and then head home for a nice scotch.

But then Sandy hit, and of course this plan fell to pieces. I was 100% fine with this, really. I even treated myself to scotch the night the marathon was cancelled. I believe it would have been a horrible mistake to go through with the marathon. The next morning while in the shower at my parent’s house (we were there because we lost power from Sandy) I decided to run anyway. It just made sense. My friends and family had donated their hard earned money (they fulfilled their end of the deal), so I had to fulfill my end.  I started to get excited too because Dad would be able to come to the Pleasantville High School track and see me finish after all!  I told my parents, my wife, my cousin Trish, my brother and his wife. At 10am the next morning I headed out – running 10 miles in my town of Chappaqua, NY – meandering from Chappaqua into Pleasantville, until I got to the Pleasantville High School track at mile 11. When I first got there, the track was relatively empty. At about mile 15 or 16 I ran into a lovely woman whom I’d met by virtue of spending many hours training on the same track. Her name is Debbie Newman – Bernstein. She saw me and while running next to me said “I’m so sorry that you didn’t get to run the marathon today”…to which I replied “I’m running it right now.” I shared my story with her as we circled the track together. A few miles later I could see her bouncing around to the parents at nearby soccer games telling them what I was up to. A few miles later a parent of one of those soccer players started to run next to me “do you mind if I join you?” asked Dirk Klingner. I excitedly replied, “not at all, I NEED you.” I began to approach mile 20 when my family showed up. At this point some parents watching other soccer games were cheering for me each time I passed them. Teams lined up on the track and high fived me as I ran by. As I passed some boys ran with me, screaming, “He’s running for a cure.” By miles 24 and 25 I was getting emotional. I could see that “something” was happening. My body was breaking down, by I was filled with joy. I knew I was doing the right thing. As I made the last turn on the track to complete my 26.2 miles the girls playing on the main field stopped their game and cheered me on to the finish line. This is what happened next:


My brother Mark took that short video of me crossing the finish line – he shared it with me, so I posted the video on Facebook. This is where things got crazy. My friends did the rest, all by leveraging social media:

My friend Jason Hartelius (an executive producer at Good Day New York) saw my post on Facebook, and decided to put the story on air the next morning. Watch the segment here:

Good Day NY

New York News | NYC Breaking News

My friend Jeff Pearlman (a NY times best selling author and freelance sports journalist) saw the video on Facebook and asked if he could put the story in Sport Illustrated.  Read his amazing article here:

Jeff Pearlman's Pearls of Wisdom

My friend Mike Bucci (a financial advisor, and one of the brothers of Bucci Brothers Deli in Mahopac) saw the video on Facebook and posted it on the deli’s Facebook page.  Read his amazing post below in the screen-shot: or just click on the image to visit the Bucci Brother’s Facebook page and read the reactions to Mike’s beautiful post.  I wept when I read it for the first time.

Bucci Brothers Deli

Bucci Brothers Deli Facebook Page

After seeing this amazing heartfelt post from Mike on the Bucci Brother’s Deli, the Mahopac News covered the story (Mahopac is my hometown), the ALS Association posted the story on their Facebook page – the story was shared 73 times and liked over 150 times.

The result?

I had spent 5 months raising just over $3,000 from friends and family – $3,002 to be exact.   In the days since I “Ran 26.2 for Dad”… I’ve raised an additional $982 from (mostly) complete strangers.   I never asked for a dime. I just did the right thing, shared with my friends on Facebook and allowed room for a miracle.

Social media facilitates our connection on a spiritual level.  It is a tool for us to connect with each other on a deeper level. Because of social media I was able to raise more money to combat a horrible disease.

I’m so deeply grateful for everyone who touched this story.  I’m crying as I’m writing this because I feel so blessed to have so many amazing people in my life, and I feel more blessed that my father got to witness just how loved he truly is.   He always showed up and supported me – I feel like I was finally able to show up and support him.

Leverage social media to tell your story, and allow room for a miracle to happen.   I promise – amazing things will unfold in front of you.

Happy Thanksgiving.