1. In elementary
school and Jr. High I was very bashful and would turn red if a teacher called my name. It was extremely embarrassing and every
time someone said “Oh look, he’s turning red” I turned an even brighter red – like
a beet. Fortunately I don’t do that anymore . . . so I believe there’s hope for everyone to
overcome adversity. Today I can speak in front of hundreds . . . relaxed and with confidence.
2. I grew up in NYC and loved playing
“chinese handball” on the sidewalk and wall of the building across the street. I spent hours playing.
I’ve never seen it played in Rochester.
3. My relatives are all German and
at age five I went to the “Turn Verein” or better known as “German Gymnastics School”. As
a teen I travelled to the Uptown Manhattan gym by subway twice a week at night to workout. I bought into their philosophy:
“A Sound Mind in a Sound Body” and have tried to live that lifestyle throughout my life.
4. My brother and I earned the rank of Eagle Scout.
It was one of the best things our parents had us be a part of and it formed the foundation of who I am today
5. 1967 was a banner year for my running.
I had just turned 18 years of age and in my first road race ever I ran 25k in 1:23.57. I
beat Bill Rogers that day – but never again. Two months later I ran my first marathon in 2hrs 57 min. and was led to
it by distance running legend and Olympic marathoner Ted Corbitt – my running hero. In April we were
invited (zero entry fee) to run “Boston” and there I beat Corbitt with a 2:44:10 for 73rd place. Two
weeks later I ran 235 miles in seven days as part of a non-stop “World Record Relay” of 200 hours on my college
campus with a team I put together. We did this as a protest because the school would not sponsor a track team. It
was the beginnings of my becoming an “advocate” and “leader” for a cause. Two
weeks later I took 11th at the National AAU 30k Road Racing Championship and my three-man team won the national
title. It formed the foundation of what I try to accomplish in running today and made me realize . . . you can do anything
you want . . . if you put your mind to it and do the work. My fire was lit and it’s never gone out.
Right now it’s blazing . . . as are the runners I coach.
6. From 1979 to 2009 I had the honor and
privilege to serve as Director of the Regional Early Childhood Direction Center/Neonatal Follow-up Program. As the founding
Director I had a dual appointment as an education administrator for Monroe #1 BOCES and as an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
at the University of Rochester Medical Center. In this one of a kind position I had an awesome team that
provided training and technical assistance to 88 school districts, 11 county governments and dozens of special education agencies
across WNY. We were also responsible for the short and long term follow-up and developmental evaluations of high risk premies
and critically ill babies discharged from Strong’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. My career soared and it was amazing
what my team was able to accomplish as we were able to assist thousands of families access community resources and develop
early intervention services throughout the region and State.
7. The hardest thing I ever had
to do in life was tell two non English speaking parents that their three month old baby would be blind for life – yet
I somehow found the strength and words to offer hope for the future and optimism for a positive life. I cried.
8. In 1985 I was awarded the
“Jefferson Award” by the Kennedy Institute of Public Service. Recognized for my leadership in advocating for and
making a difference in the lives of individuals with disabilities. It is one of the honors I treasure most.
9. In 1986 I was appointed by
Governor Mario Cuomo to be the head of a State Agency. I served as Chairman of the NYS Developmental Disabilities
Planning Council for four years. It changed my professional career for sure but more importantly, my life
and my perspective on “quality of life” issues for all people. We helped to change the system
of care for people with developmental disabilities from one of horrid institutional maintenance to one of quality, choice
and independent living. We gave hope to those society had hidden away and helped ensure their lives could be as rich and fulfilling
as yours and mine. I befriended Bernard Carabello who lived in “hell” for 18 years at “Willowbrook State
School” which was a snake pit for 5.000 people with developmental disabilities. Bernard changed how
I think about life and what is important while we are on this earth. He gave opportunity and a message of hope, dignity and
independent living to thousands across our nation, He is another of my hero’s.
10. We have three adult children and 6 grandchildren
that are our pride and joy. They’re all doing GREAT! Although spread across the country I hope some
day I land closer to them and fulfill all my life’s dreams.