A Good Break


I sat in front of 9 to 10 TV producers a few nights ago. I’m in an undisclosed location, a place that I have never been, largely because of my exploits as an athlete. The reason for this meeting though, was to find out what kind of person I was, and being a good one, wasn’t necessarily a prerequisite.

As the questions came and the answers flowed, I was asked one question that stuck in my mind. “Is there any thing in your life that you could change, what would it be?” My answer was a quick as it was firm. Nothing… I began to explain how blessed I felt waking up each day. How happy I was to be healthy, have a loving supportive family, have all the talents I was given, have a great little house on a perfect little lake, have my dogs, and most importantly a second chance at life.

5 years ago I jumped a cliff on my skis, when upon landing my head snapped down only to be stopped cold by my knee…

The force of impact felt like I was hit with a sledgehammer as my jaw shattered and dislocated. Many of my teeth exploded and my chin was pushed back into my mouth. As I put my hand up to my face to feel and inspect the damage, my fingers swept past where my chin used to be, and touched nothing. I pitifully spit my broken teeth into my hands. Helpless thinking they could be salvaged, I tucked them into my coat pocket.

After navigating down the mountain I popped two Alieve and began a humble 7 hour drive home to the hospital. My only comfort being the sweet presence of my dog Moxon who was sleeping in the back of my SUV. That long uncomfortable ride home gave me a lot of time to reflect on my life. Where I have been, where am I going, and does it do any kind of good in this world??? Would a woman ever be attracted to whatever is left of my face? Will I be able to eat the same again? Play sports again? Speak without uncontrollably drooling? All these questions and more flooded my thoughts, and haunted my future.

Upon arrival at the hospital I was met by my heart broken parents, and was given the news of the surgery to come. Informed of the possible next 2 months of having my mouth screwed shut, barely able to speak, eating through a straw, and sleeping on my back fearing I would roll over and injury myself further. I woke up the first few nights with nightmares of drowning. Only to wake up with the claustrophobic sensation caused by having my mouth sealed shut. With panic almost setting in, I used all my strength to calm myself down and not remove the hardware that was both healing me, and imprisoning me. My only true medicine was going to be a positive attitude, and a refusal to be a victim.
So I returned to work immediately. I used a white board and a sharpie to communicate and continued to do my job. Within 3 and a half weeks the screw in my face were removed. I started gaining back range of motion, learned how to chew again, and within 2 months had enough nerve heals to allow me to whistle again. But getting back to my “old self” wasn’t enough. I wanted more. I wanted more for myself physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.

Within that next year I completely healed and made some of the most valuable relationships of my life by taking a path rich with community service. I ran my first ultra marathon. My second I ran for Julia Young. A beautiful HS student from my town who was terribly burned in a fire. Raising money for her and her family finally gave me the symbiotic relationship between my passion for sports and my responsibility to use my gifts to help others.

I finally understood why I was blessed with the gifts I have. It is not to collect plaques, medals, sponsorships and podiums to fill up my living room and my twitter account. It was to use all those accomplishments as a platform to benefit those around me who need help. To inspire our responsibility as athletes to perform community service and kindness to others. Even if it is just one person at a time.

So when asked if i would change anything about my life, I wouldn’t. Everything I have experienced in my years has lead me to wisdom Im blessed with now. Especially when I broke my jaw. I’m so grateful for that day. Grateful I’m alive and able to walk away from it, and grateful for the lessons and perspective I gained.

My life is forever better because of it and I feel blessed for such a beautiful gift.

It is no longer my accomplishments that I measure my success. Rather, how my accomplishments benefit the lives of others that my success is now measured..

Kevin Donoghue

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Kevin Donoghue
Kevin is a 5 time Spartan Race Podium finisher and had 4 other OCR podiums in 2013 alone. Before OCR he was college and semi pro football player being used at 9 different positions including returning kickoffs and Nose Guard! Kevin is also an accomplished Ultra Marathon Runner, 2012 Ultra Beast finisher, and extreme skier, avid Stand Up Paddler, entrepreneur, & reality TV star. He is the owner of Fitnamics Training and Performance, and Co-owner of Gladiator Sports & Coliseum Strength and Conditioning.


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