Thursday, July 14, 2011

2003 Hawaii Ironman World Championship

Ironman 2003 Kona Hawaii

In 2003, my son, Bill Smith, called me and said "Mom, we're going to see Frank in the Ironman in Kona, HI. I thought it was a dream but little did I know that I would be participating in a dream come true. Frank's dream!

Frank Fumich is a handsome, intelligent, crazy (I could pull a lot of adjectives here) young man who I met when he was in college at West Virginia University. He is full of life and plans to live it to the fullest! I've seen Frank graduate from college, at footbal games pulling for the Mountaineers with more than normal intensity, parties, weddings and as my son's roommate. Frank is as passionate about life, his business, his family as anyone I know. Frank's dream of finishing the Ironman with his Dad, George Fumich, waiting at the finish line and being with George at the opening of the World Ward II Memorial is best told in Frank's own words.

These words written by Frank were submitted for a place at the 2003 Ironman competition. Frank won a lottery for spot in the 2003 competition and was one of three winners of the Degree Ironman Essay Contest: "The Road to Kona" along with, Kimber Oliver, initiating the beginning of his dream. Frank's friends tease him about his "Fifteen Minutes of Fame." We are all in awe!

Dear Ironman:

When Tom Brokaw wrote "The Greatest Generation", it was men
like my father he had in mind. Mydad rose from humble beginnings, worked in the
coal mines to put himself through college and law school,moved to Washington,
DC, and rose in office to rub shoulders with presidents and men of great

Before college, he courageously volunteered to fight against the
great evil of his day in WWII. Hefought in the European campaign and received
military honors including the Silver Star, and was captured and held as a POW.
He never asked anything of his men that he wouldn't ask of himself.

My father didn't speak much of his war experiences, but as time passed, it eased the tight grip on hisclosely held memories. He's now entering the twilight of his life,
and has begun opening up about hisexperiences, both horrific and heroic. Many
aren't easy on him, and as emotion wells up in his speech, I'mmoved that he
feels comfort in telling me. I've learned what I'd always felt, that my father
was an incrediblystrong man in body, will, and faith. It's this combination that
brought him back from the battlefield alive andprepared to tackle life. As time
passes, his body loses strength, but his will and faith only grow stronger.
It'sthis strength that has enabled him to succeed in his career and raise a
loving family.

My father has been attacked by colon, prostate, skin cancer, and a brain tumor, but has beaten themall, just as he beat the enemy in WWII. It was his strength that got him through these scary times.

I've been fortunate not to have struggled through life. I sometimes wonder why I push myself to the extremes of physical and mental toughness. Maybe it's because I want to struggle. I want to work hard. I want to prove to myself that I can be as strong as he is that I can fight through pain and despair, and can persevere to reach
that seemingly unreachable goal. He is proud of my accomplishments in sport,
business, and most importantly, in my faith.

At eighty-five years old, with many of his fellow solders laying down their arms and leaving this world,there are two increasingly urgent things that would mean the world to us both. One is to be waiting for him atthe long awaited WWII Memorial currently under construction; and second, for him to be waiting on me atthe finish of the Ironman Championship in Hawaii, the pinnacle of endurance sports achievement.

If God'swilling, we'll do both. As I train along the Potomac River, I see all
our beautiful monuments that strongly symbolize thegreat freedoms that my father
and all the other soldiers of past and present have fought for, many giving
theultimate sacrifice, their lives. My father is my hero. God bless our country,
and God bless my dad. I'm sure he already has!

Frank Fumich

Frank, thanks for sharing your adventures with all of us. We'll just live those adventures through you! This blog is created for you with love to share with us so we don't have to get those long emails anymore! Get busy, go somewhere and then post!

Annette Ashley Smith, your friend

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