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And the pursuit of

May 19, 2017

YMCA ANNUAL MEETING SPEECH > MAY 18, 2017

For those of you who know me, you may have expected my pursuit to be some epic adventure, some ridiculous run, some insane endurance challenge…

Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you.

My pursuit is, and has been for as long as I can remember –  the pursuit of me.

Now, before you write this off as some narcissistic, selfish endeavor, wait. I guarantee you, this is the toughest pursuit of all, the toughest I’ve ever faced, anyway.

You see, the pursuit of me means finding and living and being the very best, most authentic version of myself I can be every single day.

And wrapped up in this pursuit of me is the pursuit of being the best father I can be to my kids, the best husband I can be to my wife, the best leader I can be to my team, the best friend I can be to my friends, the best son I can be to my parents, the best brother I can be to my sisters, the best example I can be to my community – it goes on and on and on – and as I said, it is the toughest challenge I’ve ever taken on.

The pursuit of me all started with a pair of basketball shoes.

A pair of white high-top nike basketball shoes that my wife, Steph, bought me 19 years ago when the weight of a stressful job and being a new dad and paying our first mortgage and trying to find my way in a new community w as taking its toll on me. Steph could see on my face that I was losing something – me.

And so she bought me that pair of basketball shoes.

And that led to a membership at the Y

And that led to lunchtime basketball a few days a week with a bunch of guys who also had kids and stressful jobs and mortgages, and who made me feel less alone and more like – me.

And that led to signing our oldest son Jacob up for youth basketball and my becoming the coach for a bunch of 5-year-olds who didn’t care so much about winning (or even basketball for that matter), and that made me feel more like – me.

And that led to me meeting a couple of dads who, like me, were interested in triathlon and who convinced me that it was possible to fulfill my dream of running an Ironman (which we did, me and my Ironbros!), and that made me feel more like – me.

And that led to me working with a bunch of other moms and dads who, in addition to being moms and dads, were also triathletes like me, and together we started the YMCA Minimaniacs triathlon, which gave 250 kids a chance to experience the sport that I had grown to love, and that made me feel more like – me.

And that led to Steph and me getting Jacob and our other two kids, Sophie and Joseph, involved in swimming and basketball and soccer and volleyball at the Y, where I learned that some kids like having their dad as coach and some don’t (and that’s okay), and that made me feel more like – me.

And that led me to keep on training and ultimately finishing two more Ironman races, a bunch of ultramarathons, a humbling run across the grand canyon, an epic run in the blue ridge mountains and a glorious run across the state of Florida this past December that made me feel more like – me.

And that led to me getting more involved as a volunteer and a partner to the Y and introducing other people to the cause and mission of the Y and that made me feel more like – me.

And that led to me knowing exactly where I needed to go last year when my uncle suffered a stroke, and my mother was diagnosed with cancer, and I felt frustrated and powerless and needed to work off those feelings in a place that gave me a sense of hope and peace and that made me feel (a little) more like – me.

And that led to us sending our oldest son to college last year (Go Noles!), a little scared and a little nervous but mostly confident because we raised him the best we could and made sure he was surrounded by good role models and grounded in good values, and that made me feel more more like – me.

And that led me to this place and this night and for the first time thanking Steph for buying me those basketball shoes … and for the very first time writing on a piece of paper that others can see that my name is Mark Freid, and I am in pursuit of – me.

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