NEW YORK (PIX11) – Running for most is just a way to exercise or maybe let off some steam. But, for Allan Tyson, it’s what gave him back his life.
“Halloween of 2003, I got up and went on a bike ride, the usual route around my neighborhood without a helmet. A dog got in my way and I fell off,” Tyson described. “They induced me into a coma for two weeks then I woke up after 7 weeks and I had to relearn how to walk, talk, feed myself, and take care of myself.”
One thing he does remember. His family brought him Italian food and gave him a haircut. While, some may have been depressed about what life handed to them, Tyson approached it with a different attitude, “I believe that if you stagnate, you’re going to die.”
So, he decided to join the 20-week rehab program at Rusk, at the New York University Langone Medical Center.
Bonnie Marks, the founder of the program, worked closely with Tyson and knew he was special right away. “Allan is amazing, he’s very disciplined, he’s very focused and he did very well in our program,” she said.
Tyson never got upset about his situation, no matter how tough life got, no matter how much pain he was in. “I don’t think I was ever depressed because of exercise.”
He found this exercise through Achilles International. This is a non-profit organization was started by Dick Traum in 1983 and its purpose is to help people with disabilities participate in sports.
Tyson joined the organization and right away knew this was a perfect fit. “When I started running and having the ability and the suggestions and the encouragement to run, that changed my life because it got me to be more open,” he explained.
Achilles is more than just that. Tyson said, “It’s also enjoyable to see people and their deficits and it makes me remember that you’ve got to live with whatever you’re stuck with.”
Tyson still struggles with certain everyday tasks, nothing he can’t handle but frustrations he must deal with, especially when he runs. “I have to be aware of how my body’s moving because I can’t see things to my right,” he detailed. “Also my left leg doesn’t like to leave the ground fully”
But, his biggest struggle isn’t physical, it’s emotional. Tyson used to work as a family therapist and mental health counselor. He had an ability to connect with people that he no longer has. “It used to be a lot easier to handle things and people and it made life more enjoyable. And now it’s much more difficult to read people.”
No matter his struggles, Tyson looks ahead and moves forward, one step at a time. “I like setting goals and having them met and after they get met then I’m happy for a minute or two and it’s on to the next goal,” he said.
His next goal is just two days away, ten years after that fateful October morning. Tyson will compete in his third New York City Marathon. But, this time he is guiding someone else.
Christine Stansell, a college professor, suffered a stroke and is now part of Rusk and Achilles International. She will walk the Marathon with three guides, including Tyson. “He interacts with me along the way, gives me tips,” Stansell explained. “He has brought me his tenacity, his ability to just keep going no matter what.”
He has an inspirational attitude, real passion, and fierce competitive spirit all masked behind his subtle smile.
The New York City Marathon is Sunday, November 3rd.
As you may know, PIX11’s own Mr. G will also be running his 30thNew York marathon this year. Because of this, The New York Times is publishing an article this weekend about the training he undergoes to keep in top shape for the run. This year, his daughter will tag along him for the first time through all 26+ miles. The article also mentions about his Sunday routines, his love (or heartache) of the Giants and his appetite for gluten-free meals.
PRODUCED BY KIM PESTALOZZI.