Big Apple, big heart | ParkRecord.com

Big Apple, big heart

Matthew Piper, OF THE RECORD STAFF

Running a marathon is hard work, but John Perry has a built-in energy boost any time he needs it. He can just think of his father.

Perry, who has pledged a commitment of $40,000 to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by the time of the New York City Marathon in November, lost his dad to leukemia when he was just six years old. A transit cop in lower Manhattan, his father never let cancer derail his daily life, no matter how debilitating it got.

"He was kinda sick the whole time I knew him," Perry said. "But he had a real tough demeanor. He never missed work because he was sick."

Now 25, Perry works as an administrative and marketing coordinator at Glenwild. He moved to Park City two years ago after coming from New York to visit two years ago. He loved it so much that he quit his packaging-design job and moved out two weeks later.

His start in marathons was similarly spontaneous – he ran because his little brother and his girlfriend’s little brother said that he wouldn’t be able to do it. With little training and having only ever run as far as six miles, Perry was able to finish his first attempt at the distance – but wearing a blister the size of a softball on the heel of his foot.

"I couldn’t walk after that," he said. "A buddy had to carry me around after the race."

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Perry gained an appreciation for the discipline and actually qualified for the New York City Marathon in 2009, but broke a bone in the top of his foot and sprained his ankle about six miles into the race. The accident occurred near his brother Brian’s house in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and his lookalike sibling finished the final 15 miles of the race (John joked that the carbon-copy brothers "could have pulled the old ‘switcheroo’").

"It was just cool that he was able to do that for me," he said. But the mission still remained unfinished. In pursuit of a 2010 finish, Perry has been running four to five times each week, doing yoga, mountain biking, rock climbing, trail running and playing for two Park City softball teams.

He also plans to run in the Freedom Half Marathon, the Park City Half Marathon and the Little Grand Canyon Marathon as warm-up races for the NYC event. He hopes to run at a pace of 7:30 per mile pace, which bring him home in around three and a half hours.

Perry, who said he will have run five full marathons and five half marathons by the end of this year, likened the experience of running a 26-plus miles to a small-scale version of fighting cancer.

"You want to give up," he said. "You’ve got to be a strong person. That’s one thing I learned from my dad: Life is always going to be a battle, and the mind controls your whole body."

Perry said Glenwild employers Milward Bell-Bhatti and Del Cochran have been very supportive of his cause, as has director of golf Ken Weyand.

Perry is hosting a charity golf tournament, "The Scramble for Leukemia," at Jeremy Ranch Golf Club with the help of clubhouse manager Damon Rodgers. The event is a four-player best-ball scramble on July 19, and Perry said it will raise $12,000 if he can reach his target of 100 players.

Cost for the tournament is $800 for a foursome, $450 for a pair and $250 for an individual to register. The price tag includes green fees and a lunch spread of chicken, ribs and sides. Prizes will be given for longest drive and closest to the pin.

Perry, who put up $1,000 of his own money toward his goal for the NYC Marathon, will have other fundraising events over the next five months, including a silent auction at Glenwild. He said he is open to others suggesting events or offering donations. For more information on Perry, or to donate, go to pages.teamintraining.org/nyc/nyc10/jperryeymy.

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