Growing up sports were my life. Soccer, baseball, basketball, track, and cross country kept me busy sun up to sun down. At the age of 12, however, I was diagnosed with a heart condition and was advised to cease all sports immediately; My heart was enlarging due to a defective aortic valve. (See Article About Ryan Judkins-American Heart Association
I did what I could in middle school and high school to stay involved with the sports I loved. The doctor cleared me to be a field goal kicker in high school. I would kick the ball and then run off the field. Keeping stats with my high school’s basketball team and assisting the coaches also kept me busy. Golf, however, became my passion because it was the only sport the doctors would fully clear me to play.
At the age of 22 in 1997, I underwent my first open-heart surgery to replace my aortic valve. Doctors performed the Ross Procedure which moved my pulmonary valve to the aortic position and I received a cadaver’s valve. This surgery was such a blessing as it extended my life and quality of life; I married my wife, Charity, and eventually became the father of four children.
Twelve years after the first procedure, I needed another open-heart surgery to replace my aortic valve and root which was starting to deteriorate. I was given a mechanical heart valve to try to avoid future valve replacement surgeries. This second recovery proved to be much more difficult, but once again I was given an opportunity to enjoy life to the fullest.
Because of these two surgeries, I have been able experience things I never imagined when first diagnosed with my heart condition. I am currently a sales representative for Callaway Golf based in the Las Vegas area and feel extremely blessed to work in the industry of the sport I love so much.
Why am I doing Beard For Boston?
On April 15th, I was shocked and horrified by the Boston Marathon Bombings. Images I witnessed on the television will never be erased from my memory. Glued to the news that week, I watched the manhunt unfold and unfortunately, witnessed another death and more people injured during the manhunt.
As destructive as those events were, what really left an impression on me was how the first responders and complete strangers ran to the aid of the fallen even while the debris was falling. They ran towards the destruction to provide life saving aid and comfort to the wounded. Thousands of people did what they could to help. They donated blood, money, time and energy to help the injured and the families of the fallen.
On Sunday, April 21st, I was laying in bed reading about the news updates on the bombings when I felt a strong desire to do what I could to help the people who were affected by this senseless terrorist act. But what could I do from Las Vegas? I knew I could donate my own money (which I did do immediately) but wanted to do more. Then came the idea of growing a beard for Boston and the following plan was put in place:
I did a domain search for BeardForBoston.com
and saw it was available, then purchased it with the goal of publishing my fundraising efforts.
I set a personal goal of raising at least $10,000 which will be donated to the One Fund Boston. The One Fund Boston
was formed to assist victims and families affected by the tragic events at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 and in the days that followed. 100% of the donations to Beard For Boston will go to the One Fund Boston.
I set a personal goal of running 1,000 miles before the next Boston Marathon. This goal is to show that even with my own physical set backs, I will be able to accomplish a goal I never would have thought I could have done. My hope is that the individuals who lost limbs and experienced their own set backs will one day also be able to run again and accomplish their own goals they might have thought they would not be able to do again.
On April 24th, nine days after the bombings, after seeking approval and support of my idea from my wife and my employer, I began growing my beard.
I will be growing my beard for one full year in honor of and as a daily reminder of:
- Those lost due to the bombings and shootings
- Survivors and their recovery effort
- The thousands of people that aided in the help and recovery
What do I hope comes from Beard For Boston?
I hope this campaign will:
Provide help to those who were affected by these attacks.
Show how we support and take care of others when they need help.
Inspire others to take action when they feel impressed to help.