In April 2012, Michael Heaney, former swim team captain and 2009 graduate of The College of New Jersey Lions, was involved in a severe accident when he was hit by a car while riding his bike near his house in Morristown, New Jersey. Michael was left in critical condition and, as a testament to his strength, he miraculously survived.
Unfortunately Michael’s fight has been a long and slow one. Michael received fairly extensive brain damage and has been in a semi-vegetative state. He has been in and out of hospitals and rehabilitation centers since his accident, where he has been undergoing surgeries, as well as cognitive and physical rehabilitation.
Most recently, Michael’s doctors have confirmed that he has been responding in small ways to stimulation and has even been following simple commands like blinking and moving his left arm. Everyone hopes that this behavior and responsiveness become more consistent over time. No one can say for sure what lies ahead, but knowing Mike’s incredible willpower and strength, we all remain positive that he will come out of this in the best way he can manage.
To combat Mike’s enormous medical and rehab costs, current and former teammates of Mike rallied together to create the Michael Heaney fund and the 1500 Meters for Mike Ocean Swim.
Swimming Family Establishes “1500 Meters for Mike” to Support Michael Heaney
Last year, in the first Meters for Mike Event, on September 22, 2012, over 500 participants showed up in support of Mike to battle the ocean chop and complete the largest open water swim in New Jersey.
According to Andreas Rostenberg, Head Coach New Jersey Race Club, “Last year’s 1500 Meters For Mike swim was one of the most competitive swims that I have seen on the Jersey shore in 15 years with over 500 swimmers coming out to support a great cause. Out team, the New Jersey Race Club sent 20 swimmers to the race last year and this year we will be sending close to 50.”
The outpouring of support was overwhelming but simply illustrated the power and unity of the swimming family. With participants as old as 75 and as young as 10, it was clearly evident that the competitors were there to compete for the cause. Collegiate teams from all three divisions battled up and coming age-groupers, Masters teams and triathletes alike in 3 friendly but highly contested waves.
Brian Bishop, TCNJ Men’s Head Coach, told us that “the opportunity to support a member of our own TCNJ Lion’s Swimming Family by participating in the 1500 Meters for Mike event is truly a moving experience for our entire team. Even though none of the current athletes swam with Mike, the bond they feel with him through stories passed on by those who did have left an indelible mark on their lives and made everyone feel as though the were his teammate. We are honored to help Mike in any way we can and humbled by the immense outpouring of support from the swimming community as a whole.”
Based on these tremendous experiences and Michael’s continued financial burden, the 2013 1500 Meters for Mike has been set for September 21 at 8:30 am in Belmar, New Jersey. Furthermore, the Meters for Mike team is proud to announce that SwimSpray is a featured sponsor of the event. In addition to receiving a one-of-a-kind t-shirt for registering, all participants will receive SwimSpray’s chlorine removal spray.
We are once again looking to the swimming family to rally around a fellow swimmer in need. Michael’s journey will be long and arduous but he will not go it alone. All interested individuals, teams or groups can use the following links to find out more about last year’s event, and this year’s race and registration. We urge everyone to join the “1500 Meters for Mike” Facebook event page for the most up to date news on Michael’s condition and the race.
Sheila Heaney, Mike’s mom told us, “Meters for Mike on Belmar Beach is an outstanding bonding of an athletic community like no other. This event shows support for one of its own—the swimming family—the coming together for Michael. He has given and received so much from swimming – which began when he was 5. Meters for Mike is so meaningful to my family as the monies will directly benefit Michael’s extensive care. Warmth will flow and surround those in attendance. So, when one and all gather in support of this heartfelt swim- lets rock the beach in Belmar.”
How to Help Mike Heany: Come Swim at Meters for Mike; or Donate to Mike’s Fund
If you can’t make the race but would still like to donate, please follow the instructions on the event website. Sponsorship inquiries can be sent to Liam Gallagher at this email address: [email protected].
This content is courtesy of SwimSpray, a swimswam partner.
SwimSpray was invented by Dr. Andrew Chadeayne, a former Princeton University swimmer and chemistry Ph.D. from Cornell University. Tired of smelling like chlorine after his swimming workouts, Andrew set out remove chlorine from hair and skin ( SwimSpray works where so many other chlorine removal products (e.g., swimmers’ shampoos) have failed previously because SwimSpray’s all-natural vitamin C based formula breaks this bond, neutralizing the chlorine, and allowing it to be washed away with your favorite soap or shampoo. Follow him on Twitter @swimspray and fan him Facebook.