Matt Long is a firefighter. In my mind that says volumes about the man. The first time you meet Matt the dominant feature is his face. He has a great big smile, and a bald head! There’s so much face there you can’t take your eyes off of him. His smile need that much to be fully seen.
During our swim sessions Matt’s determination was evident. He worked hard and became a good swimmer. During our BRick workouts he would push hard. And always there was Matt’s smile.
He completed Ironman Lake Placid this summer. So, he’s an Ironman, and a fireman and the owner of one of the biggest smiles in this city.
On Thursday morning, while Matt was cycling to work at the NYC FD training center on Randalls Island he was struck by a bus. He’s in critical condition. I have not been to the hospital to see him, he’s in ICU and his family has asked his friends not to visit yet. But, I know this, what ever Matt’s condition, no matter how serious his injuries, there are two things you can count on – his smile and his will do everything possible to pull through this tough patch.
We all go through them. Usually, they are not life threatening. Our personalities help us face the difficulty. Our training, being an athlete, helps us too. We learn delayed gratification. All those days of training to race to a finish line. All that work, sweat and at times self doubt, make us stronger and more determined.
We usually don’t think about accidents, crashes and injuries that are life threatening. We usually worry about making it through a tough workout, a run in cold and wet weather, a swim with waves pushing us around, cycling with a cross wind and a big long hill. But, that’s what we train for, to overcome those obstacles. None of us train to survive an accident.
A fireman trains to save other’s lives. They constantly put themselves at risk. They also train to survive and to take care of them selves. Athletes train to survive the self adopted challenge – complete a 10 Km run, a marathon, an Olympic distance triathlon or an Ironman triathlon. These are not life threatening. Being a fireman is to put your life on the line everyday.
Cycling to work shouldn’t be a life threatening activity. But, too often it is.
Everything about Matt – his training as a fireman and as an Ironman, his ever present smile and giving personality, has prepared him for his current challenge and the challenges he will surely face in rehabilitating from these injuries.
I have no doubts that Matt will cross many more finish lines.
Frank Carino, AGTC member and NYFD employee, has asked that any club member wishing to donate blood in support of Firefighter Matthew Long are encouraged to do so at area blood centers. PLEASE DO NOT GO TO NEW YORK PRESBYTERIAN HOSPITAL TO DONATE BLOOD.
To donate, call 1-800-933-2566 (1-800-933-BLOOD) or visit http://www.nybloodcenter.org to schedule an appointment.
Frank & Matt at IM LP '05 Matt finishing IM LP '05
Matt IM LP '05 Ben, Matt & Gregg
(photos - Sarah Riley, AGTC)