Hope is a gift we can give to ourselves, a belief that our tomorrow will be better. For some, hope comes from their heart. To others it’s a gift of their mind. And for some it’s their faith.
Hope is also a gift we can give to others.
He is 64 years old, a marathoner, husband and father of three daughters. He is living with HIV. He is living with brain cancer.
Richard Brodsky is a giver of hope.
Richard was born in Brooklyn, NY, moved to North Woodmere when he was seven and graduated with a Bachelor of architecture degree in 1975. In 1978, he moved to Houston and through a local rabbi, he met his wife Jodi. Their first date was a running date. He wasn’t much of a runner, 3 miles at most, but they decided to run five. He figured he could talk his way through the pain and the miles, but Jodi would rather just run. The date didn’t go well. She wasn’t much interested but a car breakdown later, a good Samaritan ride from Richard, and they were engaged after three months.
And they haven’t stopped running. Jodi has run 61 marathons, Richard has run 56! We’re not sure whether Richard continues to run quietly, but he’s sure that running and being married to Jodi has saved his life.
Life Gets Tougher.
Although he had being living with HIV for five years, life was coming together for Richard in 2002. He had just completed a cross-country book tour promoting his first book, Jodi, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told, was speaking at NYU and American University, signing books at Barnes & Noble bookstores, and Newsday had a featured article planned. Things were great. Couldn’t be better. Then he suffered a seizure at one of the book signings and was diagnosed with brain cancer. The doctors told him had only 2-4 years to live. But the doctors had no idea of his will. Of his determination. Of his heart. And a year later he completed the 2003 NYC Marathon.
He’s Running For Everyone Living with HIV and Cancer.
Each time he laces up that’s how Richard feels. 5K or marathon, it doesn’t matter, he’s giving hope. In 1998, one year after his HIV diagnosis, he ran the NYC Marathon in 3:23:23. He’s run several NYC marathons since. He’s run marathons in New Jersey, in Miami, in Ft. Lauderdale and in Jerusalem, where he raised $53,000 for Emunah Bet Elazraki Children’s Home. He’s also run a half in Quebec City. But his goal was to run another sub 4-hour marathon before he turned 65. At 62, he ran Hartford in 3:59:56! BOOM!
For many marathoners it’s about Boston and about the BQ. It was July 2016 at the Nova Scotia Marathon and Richard needed a sub 3:55 to qualify for the 2017 Boston Marathon. He was running faster than he should. He was older. Has two terminal diseases and yet he qualified for by 90 seconds! But his timing bracelet had fallen off at mile one and it took him several precious seconds to retrieve it. With all the competition for Boston and qualifying times continually dropping, he got ‘bumped’ by 39 seconds. HIV couldn’t stop him. Brain cancer couldn’t stop him. But a damn timing bracelet did.
NYPD Police officer and fellow runner Jennifer Livingston had qualified for Boston but during her training she had suffered a fractured femur and labrum tear. Jennifer was done. Boston was done for her too. But Jennifer heard Richard’s story, contacted him and offered to transfer her bib to him. It was a wonderfully, kind gesture and it was hope for Richard. But the B.A.A. denied the request and bib no. 11590 never crossed the finish line.
A Giver of Hope.
Richards greatest ‘run’ of all is The Richard M. Brodsky Foundation. Its mission is to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS and cancer. They provide global, innovative outreach programs. And most importantly they give hope to Africa; to some day have better access to doctors; to some day have better education; to some day have cleaner drinking water; better nutrition and shoes. They provide food, shelter, and shoes for Kenyan orphans. He also runs the World AIDS Marathon in Kisumu, Kenya and his foundation will again be co-sponsoring this year’s race for the 12th straight year which he and Jodi will run again.
At home, the foundation sponsors the only AIDS run/walk on Long Island, free to anyone living with AIDS or cancer. He continues to run with the Greater Long Island Running Club and some day hopes to run the Athens Marathon.
Richard and Jodi will always run. Like the Foundation, running’s their passion. It’s their love. And it’s the way they give back. And more importantly, it’s the way they give hope.
For more about Richard and his Foundation visit the following links:
The Richard M. Brodsky Foundation: www.richardmbrodsky.org
The Worlds AIDS Marathon: www.worldaidsmarathon.com
5K AIDS / Cancer Run / Walk in America: www.5kaidscancer.com
Richard's Book: www.trebloon.com