What makes us awesome? Tony Jackson

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I was privileged enough in my life to meet Tony Jackson. Only twice but that was enough to be touched by this man. Unfortunately Tony was taken from us on Saturday 9th March, exactly one week after Ironman. An event he made his own.

Tony and Verna

Tony and Verna

Tony had competed and completed all 28 ironman New Zealand, one of only a few, but to do this he had taken a massive risk and beaten a brain tumour!
In 2008 he had been given 12 weeks to live after being diagnosed with Brain Cancer but his determination and a stroke of luck meant he could compete in the 2008 ironman in between radiotherapy treatment. On the Friday night the radiotherapy machine went off air so Verna (Tony’s wife) and Tony headed down to Taupo to compete in the race together.

“At one point a guy came running out of the darkness and said: ‘Are you Tony Jackson?’

“He said: ‘I have got the same thing as you, but I’m locked up in my house and afraid to go out the front door. I’m getting a bike tomorrow’.

“I thought if I could just switch somebody on that would be great and it’s the biggest feedback I’ve had.”

The Mt Albert resident is one of only two men to complete all 25 Ironman New Zealand races since the event began in 1985 on Auckland’s waterfront.”

An excerpt from an article on Stuff.co.nz about tony in 2010.

Tony went on to complete the next 4 races in Taupo with the same gusto and enthusiasm he had always done so. When Ironman found out he would not be able to make it to this years event and probably not any more they retired the number 28 in respect of his 28 IMNZ completions. This is monumentius as it is only the second time in Ironman history worldwide that this has ever happened.

Retired Ironman Number

Retired Ironman Number

While this in itself is enough to make Tony awesome there was more I heard in the funeral that made him even more so. His sons including step sons had a story each to tell on the day and what came out of those stories, for me, was that Tony was a man who never had a bad word to say about other people. I don’t doubt that there may have been people in his life that he didn’t get on with but the boys don’t remember him saying anything bad or bad mouthing anyone in their life. That is something I would like to live by and something that I will strive to live in.

Secondly was the fact that they never saw him lose his temper. If the boys did something wrong, which some of them often did, he would give them the look, tell them to “go outside and play” and he would sort it out. Again I know there had to be times where he would have been pushed to the edge, been taken to the “the last straw” moment but the fact that he managed himself so well that he allowed people to make mistakes and deal with them in a calm, orderly manner speaks volumes for the man. This one I may struggle with a little, especially when I make some mistakes and lose my temper with what I am doing but I will try.

There are plenty of things that other people would think made Tony awesome but these are the things I will remember and use to hopefully make me a little awesome too.

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