2012 Race Reviews

Race Reviews

By: Bobby Puckett

“I Will Inspire” was the theme of the “all abilities” races I participated in at Florida Orthopaedic Institute on Saturday. Although this was the first “I Will Inspire” 5K/1 mile walk, run or wheel event, it’s now going to be held annually, which is great news for those of us looking for ways to get out and compete — either against other participants, or against our own best times. Hosted by Florida Orthopaedic Institute, the event was organized by The New Tampa Junior Woman’s Club, and they did an amazing job. Proceeds will support Operation Helping Hand, dedicated to supporting the needs of families of wounded veterans, and the I Will Foundation, focused on helping those who are challenged by life-altering injuries and illnesses.

Saturday’s run, walk, and wheel events were a reflection of the missions of the organizations that were involved. We were there to show everyone, especially people living through adversity in their lives that we can live our lives to the fullest by achieving goals that we think are otherwise unattainable. Of course Westcoast Brace & Limb was there, represented by staff members and patients. Even Greg Bauer, president of Westcoast, brought his 7-year-old daughter and she ran right beside him in one of the races. I was thrilled to be part of Team Westcoast!

This event offered a lot of variety. There was the 5K run and a 1 mile Fun Run. Both of these events were open to all abilities. This is the only event I have been in which allowed people using handcycles and wheelchairs to stay together with the runners if they wanted to. Some racers used wheelchairs or walkers, crutches, prosthetics or braces. I was wearing my special running legs, and ran the entire 5K race beside Bridget Lawler, my prosthetist at Westcoast. I felt very inspired watching so many people overcome many physical challenges and achieve what I suspect some may have at some point thought would be impossible.

A very memorable part of the event for me was when I got to talk with Matt Long. Matt was a New York City fireman who was hit by a bus while training to run a marathon. After the accident, Matt said he was determined to continue reaching for his goals. He told me that eventually he was able to resume training and competing in marathons, despite his injuries. Matt has written a book, “The Long Run”, to share his journey and experiences. After his book, Matt started the “I Will” foundation to help others overcome adversity in their lives.

I really enjoyed running in the 5K race on Saturday. I think it’s events like this that help all of us continue to chase our dreams. When you can see and be with other people who are overcoming major challenges in their lives, it does — and it should! –inspire each of us to set our sights on achieving more than we ever imagined possible. I can’t wait to do it again next year, and I hope you’ll join me!

Bobby Puckett is a bi-lateral, below-knee amputee, a competitive hand cyclist and marathoner, and a Patient Ambassador at Westcoast Brace & Limb.


Florida Orthopaedic Institute/Donna Bossuyt ~ I felt compelled to write to thank you for such an amazing event on Saturday. It was very well executed and Florida Orthopaedic Institute was a very proud sponsor! We look forward to next year’s event. You were a pleasure to work with, thank you.

We had an excellent turnout from several different departments that represented FOI proudly for this very worthwhile, community event. Everyone crossed the finish line with great pride and a sense of accomplishment. The amazing wounded athletes that participated in the event encouraged and INSPIRED each and every one of us. It was extremely heartfelt.

Everyone was truly inspired.


Jay Jarmon ~ I didn’t get a shirt but after I got to meet and talk to Matt Long just didn’t care. I have never felt so emotional or inspired before at a race. Thanks for putting this on.

Dezi Zevin ~ Congrats to Catherine Pacifici, Mandy Manno and the ladies of the NTJWC for putting together a very touching and well organized race. Can’t wait until next year!

Jennifer Berenyi ~ The I Will Inspire 5K was fan-freakin-tastic!!! Totally lived up to its name and purpose. Can’t wait to be part of it next year. Job well done!  I couldn’t stop telling people about the drum line, the marine corp group running, the great race Tshirts and THE best goody bag I’ve ever gotten at a race.

Ginger Bean ~ Great job organizing the race today. I left at 8:00, but it was obvious how much time/effort was put into this inaugural race. Even the announcer/dj at registration was impressed with the organization for a first-year race

Isabelle Jensen ~ i was truly INSPIRED, and deeply touched u girls did a fantastic job organizing everything

Maria Rosias ~ Congratulations on a great event! You couldn’t pick a better name for it. It totally INSPIRED me!

Amy Wheaton ~ What an amazing race! It had such an emotional and loving feel to it, unlike any other race I’ve been a part of! So inspirational! Thank you for dedicating your life to this for the last year…it meant so much too so many people! We could all feel how much love went into it!

Heather V ~ Great race, very organized, loved the diversity!

Martha Tedesco  ~  I just wanted you to know that YOU and the volunteers who organized this race did a FANTASTIC job!!!! I know this is your first event and it was FIRST CLASS!!!