One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for April 11, 2015.
My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.
People find their way to becoming an athlete in all different ways. My definiton of an athlete does not rise to the level of being world-class or professional but I have been fortunate to have some friends that are in that category. One of those friends has completed an event that I believe only world-class athletes can accomplish. The friend is Mike DeCinti from Lumberton, NC and the event is an “Ironman Triathlon”.
Mike and I met when he was employed at UNC Pembroke in the Mass Comm Department as a faculty member. He was creative, funny, hard-working, and we became friends. We shared weekends together, Thanksgiving Day, and for a time we were running partners. Mike is married to a beautiful woman named Alison who is a talented development officer and they have a gorgeous 5-year-old daughter named Noel.
Mike’s story is pretty amazing. In late 2003 Mike was 40 pounds overweight and had become physically inactive. One random Saturday afternoon he was lying on the couch watching TV, when he saw a special that he said changed his life. It was NBC’s coverage of the Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon.
Triathlons are endurance events that are made up of three sports, swimming, biking and running. They come in a variety of lengths but are normally categorized as Sprint (the shortest), Olympic, Half-Ironman and Ironman. The Ironman is considered by many to be the world’s toughest endurance sport. It’s made up of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run.
It normally takes even the most elite athletes up to nine hours to complete. But it wasn’t one of the world’s greatest athletes on that TV special that got Mike’s attention but a father and son who finished the race in just under 14 hours. There names are Dick and Rick Hoyt and it was their story that got Mike from the couch to becoming an Ironman himself.
The Hoyts story starts with the son Rick, now in his 50’s, who was born with his umbilical cord coiled around his neck cutting off oxygen to his brain. His parents were told that there would be no hope for his development and that he should be placed in a home. Dick, the dad who is in his 70’s refused to listen and was determined to raise his son just like any normal kid. Rick is confined to a wheelchair with very little movement, his mental capabilities are normal, and with the help of a computer can even communicate. In fact, it was this mode of communication that led the Hoyts down their path of inspiration. Hearing about a three-mile charity run for another paralyzed teen when Rick was just 15, he asked his father to help. So with a custom-built wheelchair and pushing his son the entire way, the Hoyts finished their first race. He discusses on their website (www.teamhoyt.com) that his son said he ‘didn’t feel handicapped when they were racing’ and from that point on, Dick knew what he needed to do. So for the next 30 years the Hoyts dedicated themselves to competing in events and have completed over nine hundred races, including 92 5Ks, 204 10Ks, 64 marathons and 206 triathlons (6 Ironman distances), with Dick pushing or pulling his son the entire way.
With that story Mike challenged himself to do an Ironman before he was 40 and in 2008 two years ahead of schedule he completed the “Ironman” in Louisville KY. In 2013 he completed a second one in Wilmington, NC.
Mike has also found himself in a new career as a marketing expert for pharmacies and related entities. He is working for a friend whose name is Jason Foil who is quite a success story himself.
The Friend – MIKE DECINTI -with his wife Alison
The Friend of the Friend- JASON FOIL-shown with his wife Shelley
What makes living in a small town special
Jason Foil moved to Lumberton, NC in 1998 after finishing pharmacy school to work as a pharmacist in a local retail chain. His father got ill in 2000 and he moved back to his hometown of Durham, NC to take care of him.
Two years later he was back in Lumberton armed with a dream to open up his own pharmacy called Lumberton Drugs. In August of 2004 that became a reality. Today he has two locations in Lumberton and other pharmacy businesses across the state of North Carolina.
Jaason had a business model to provide better patient care in a comfortable, down-home, folksy kind of setting, in contrast to the gloomy, sterile places you encounter at the retail chains.
He married his college sweetheart Shelley and they have four children. He is a gigantic sports fan with a special fondness for the North Carolina Tarheels. He also is great friend to Ben Miler the UNCP Head Basketball Coach and can be spotted sitting court side for most UNCP games ala Jack Nickelson
Jason is involved with his church and enjoys spending time at the beach with his family. Around Lumberton you can find him at his children’s schools or behind the counter at Lumberton Drugs on Fayetteville Road.
If you go into Lumberton Drugs I promise you will find the business discipline of an Ironman Athlete always willing to do just a little more but with a down home folksy kind of setting.
Mike and Jason make a good team just like the Hoyts.