by Jake Bitsimis, special to NYSD
One of the most beautiful things about sports is its ability to inspire. Athletes can be seen as inspirational figures and “heroes” to the common man or woman.
There is perhaps no greater example of this than Kikkan Randall. A legendary athlete, an Olympic cross-country skiing gold medalist and 17-time US national champion, Randall’s athletic accolades could fill an entire page. Yet after her unbelievably prestigious career, she is now more inspirational than ever.
Randall announced over social media on July 11 that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Fast forward just a few short months to October 31, and Randall was present at the New York Athletic Club in New York City to receive the Special Inspiration Award at the 4th annual AKTIV Against Cancer Award Luncheon.
In an interview prior to the presentation, Randall noted that there are certainly parallels between fighting cancer and being an athlete. She discussed how her life has changed since the diagnosis, and how honored she was to receive this award.
“I think an important part of fighting cancer is to make a plan early on in the process and follow it step by step,” she said. “I am extremely thankful to so many people that have supported me along the way between family, friends, coaches, teammates, I’ve even made new cancer support teammates that I’m so thankful for. It is an honor to receive this award and to be seen as a potential inspiration to some, I hope I can encourage females everywhere to be physically active, as I try to do with the incredible Fast and Female organization.”
Another person inspired by Randall’s strength was her fellow AKTIV Against Cancer Award honoree, Dr. Jordan Metzl.
“Such an incredible story, harnessing the power of being a world-class athlete to battle through such a terrible diagnosis, everything about her is just so inspirational, and I’m honored to be on stage with her,” said Dr. Metzl in reference to Randall’s journey.
Dr. Metzl also discussed the importance of exercise, getting back to physical activity after suffering an injury, and the role that exercise can play in the treatment and prevention of cancer, using his knowledge and expertise as a sports medicine doctor and fitness instructor.
He also expressed his gratitude and honor to be presented with the 4th Annual AKTIV Against Cancer Award, especially due to his personal connection to Grete Waitz, co-founder of AKTIV Against Cancer and the extraordinary woman in whose honor the award was created.
Dr. Metzl remarked, “Grete was one of the most incredible people, I met her when I first moved to New York and at that point I was a new sports medicine doctor and she was Grete Waitz. She was so kind and so welcoming. When I knew that this award was in her honor and her memory I was so honored to receive it.”
On a day filled with candy for most, the New York Athletic Club in New York City was filled with inspiration and honor.