Thursday, October 15, 2009

Skirt-wearing Ironman with a mohawk

Charlotte banker Kevin Collins knows about incentives.

Early next month, he’s competing in the Ironman Florida in Panama City to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It’s a way to honor the son of a co-worker, 4-year-old leukemia patient Matt Gray.

His goal is to raise $10,000, through the Janus Charity Challenge, where triathletes choose their charity. To get people to donate, he promised he’d have his hair cut into a mohawk at the half-way point. At $7,500, he’d run two local 5K races and the marathon portion of the Ironman dressed in a sport skirt.

At $10,000, the mohawk would go purple.

“I needed to come up with a plan to entice people to donate to my chosen cause,” he told my colleague, Theoden Janes, last month. “Plus, it’s a tough economy; so you have to give folks a little something for their effort.”

Last week, Collins (pictured above) emailed The Cliff photos of him in a mohawk, and running a race in an cheetah-print sport skirt – which means he passed the $7,500 mark.

In the email, he said he’s close to the $10,000, and has the green dye ready. But the race is only a few weeks away and he needs help raising the rest.

On his Ironman Web site, Collins said he has several goals: To finish (“upright. I hate to crawl”), which means swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and then running a marathon (26.2 miles) – a total of 140.6 miles on the same day.

He’d love to go the distance faster than those in his age group, qualifying him for the world championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. That’s remote, he said, “but there is always that chance.”

He also wants to beat his previous times, and his friends. But the main goal is raising the $10,000 for Matt.

Matt, he writes, was 3 when he was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia, a fast-growing cancer of the blood and bone marrow. The cancer progresses quickly, so Matt began Chemo treatments the day after diagnosis. Still his prognosis was poor, and he needed a bone marrow transplant. His younger brother was a perfect match, and the transplant was a success, Collins writes.

“He is still at risk for relapse and other complications,” he said. “He has a long road to recovery ahead of him, but his spirit is strong and he will win this fight.

“A big goal like that requires a big commitment, and I am willing to make that commitment.”
He’s taken care of expenses for the Ironman race, so every dime he raises will go to the LLS, Collins said.

He’d love to surpass his $10,000 goal to $14,060 – $100 for every mile he covers during the race.

“As you can see, I am committed and maybe I should be committed,” choosing to suffer on race day and risk humiliation with a bad haircut and wearing a skirt, he writes.

“What’s a little temporary discomfort that I’m going to experience compared to Matt’s battle with AML?” he said. “…There is no medal waiting for a blood cancer patient. Matt’s only choice is to wake up, face another day and hope to get well. That is not acceptable.”

Want to help?
You can make a donation on Kevin Collins’ Ironman Web site
here. Or make out a check to Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and send it to Collins at 7423 Claiborne Woods Rd., Charlotte NC 28216.