P2P’s Top Five Stories: February 2017

Photo courtesy of Kevin Saum

It was a short month, but it was packed with a lot of good action. Here are our top five stories from February:

5. Second Impact Syndrome Survivor Shows Other Athletes There’s Life After Sports

By all accounts, Kevin Saum shouldn’t be alive right now. That statement may sound dramatic, but it’s every bit true.

The 26-year-old from Long Valley, New Jersey was leveled with back-to-back concussions on the football field as a high school senior. His brain swelled so rapidly that he stopped breathing on the sideline and a helicopter had to quickly transport him to an operating room — a place most victims of second impact syndrome unfortunately don’t even make it to. That’s because the condition has a 50% fatality rate. Nearly every single person who does make it through is mentally handicapped for the rest of his or her life.

Saum is one of the lucky few walking and talking survivors of second impact syndrome, a rare phenomenon in which a second concussion occurs before the first one is properly healed. Most cases occur in young athletes because their brains are still developing and more vulnerable to trauma.

4. How BethAnn Telford Ran Seven Marathons In Seven Days On Seven Continents With Brain Cancer

One might assume that fighting brain cancer for 13 years would drain every ounce of energy in one’s body. Not for BethAnn Telford, who actually has an increase in stamina because of her battle. Case in point: She just ran seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. Yes, that’s 183 miles in 168 hours despite cancer cells still residing in her body, occasional seizures, and needing a catheter to expel urine.

The 47-year-old who works in the U.S. Government Publishing Office in Washington D.C. took on the World Marathon Challenge, which offered 33 participants the chance to complete marathons from Antarctica to Australia and places in between with a chartered plane carrying them all over the world.

3. Boston Marathon Bombing Survivor Roseann Sdoia Climbs Empire State Building On Prosthetic Leg

For Boston Marathon bombing survivor Roseann Sdoia, 48, this year is all about putting one foot in front of the other. First, it was a dash up one of the tallest buildings in the world. Next: Walking down the aisle in a wedding dress.

Sdoia was one of 235 competitors to take on Wednesday night’s 40th annual Empire State Building Run-Up, a legendary race sponsored by Marmot up the 86 floors of the iconic skyscraper.

She fought her way to the top of the 1,576 stairs in 58 minutes, 51 seconds. Accompanying her was her 37-year-old firefighter fiancé, Mike Materia, who was dressed in full bunker gear, and Sarah Reinersten, the first woman to finish the Kona IRONMAN on a prosthetic leg. 

2. J.J. Watt Donates $10,000 To Madison Family Who Lost Their Father In A Car Accident

NFL star J.J. Watt is always up to something good.

In his latest stand-up move, he donated $10,000 to a family who lost their father in a car accident.

Jenni Steiner and her husband, Kirk U’Ren, were hit by a speeding driver on Highway 30 in Madison, Wisconsin on Feb. 12. Kirk was killed instantly and Jenni remains in critical condition with severe head injuries. The two are parents to one-year-old twins sons

1. The Ukrainian Girl Adopted by PGA Teaching Pro Now Thriving at Texas A&M Commerce

A few years back, we told you the story of Joey Anders, a PGA teaching pro, Jordan’s Spieth’s first golf coach, and a guy who likes to do the right thing. Although Joey and his wife, Cecilie, already had four kids of their own, they fostered and ultimately, adopted a teenage girl from the Ukraine named Anya, who had spent the bulk of her life in an orphanage.

It was a rough go at first, on all kinds of levels. Money was tight. The house they had was too small. Anya had a tough time adapting to her new world, new language and being part of a real family. Until she discovered a natural talent—and love—for golf.

At the end of our first story, Anya was in high school and for the first time in her life, she had hopes for the future.  All good. But, then, what happened?

Kim Constantinesco

Kim Constantinesco

As the founder and editor-in-chief of Purpose2Play.com, Kim Constantinesco dives under the surface hype to illuminate heroes in the sports world. Whether talking with the first man with cerebral palsy to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro, or the first woman to mountain bike across Afghanistan, Kim has a keen interest in shining the spotlight on ordinary people doing extraordinary things. She believes it's time media starts placing a higher value on the people and communities who are actively doing something to make the world a little better. Previously, she covered the Denver Broncos and the NFL for seven seasons. Her work has been featured on NFL.com, CBS Sports, Fox Sports, The New York Times, and USA Today. She resides in Denver, CO. When not working, she can be found deep in the Rocky Mountains throwing backflips on her snowboard. Follow Kim on Twitter: @KimCon14
Kim Constantinesco

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