“You want to know how many miles it takes to get from point A to point B? Ask a runner.”

Those are just some of the great words of wisdom by my friend Kent.

Tom Kent Miami

A former runner and a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals (we can’t all be perfect), Kent is the senior pastor of a church in Miami. He is also a prolific blogger. We first met when I was in Miami working as a segment producer back in the late 1980s. Ours is a relationship, you know the kind, where you can catch up over the phone or via email in a few short words.

On March 3, 1999, Kent’s life changed as a result of a one-time viral attack of the myelin barrier that surrounds the spinal cord. The medical term: Transverse Myelitis (TM).

It is a Wednesday that Kent will never forget. He woke up robustly healthy. By the time Friday arrived, he was paralyzed from the chest down. The somewhat athletic 41-year-old saw his life change.

“My body just started shutting down that night,” Kent shared. “Within about 48 hours, I was paralyzed from about half-way down my chest down to my toes, except for my right arm. Because it is so rare, it took them that long to diagnose what I had. It is a bad thing to get, and I got a really severe case of it.”

In Albuquerque, I quickly became familiar with TM when the daughter of local and national racing legend Al Unser Junior was diagnosed with the same, rare condition. Interestingly, the two were in the same physical therapy center at one point in their respective recoveries.

Many years have passed.

Kent and I had a chance to catch up a few years ago in Miami. He insisted on driving (which was a good thing because my rental car was not wheelchair accessible) and we grabbed lunch at a local Cuban restaurant. My takeaway: the trials and challenges have not tainted his optimism.

Time to run.

Preparing for my fourth marathon, I read one of Kent’s clever blogs. Remembering that he was a runner when we first met in Florida, it is only natural to run in his honor.

Kent has been an encouragement to me since we first met in 1988. I don’t know if he has ever been to Denmark, but I do know his spirit and testimony will be an encouragement to me as I run 26.2 miles in the Copenhagen Marathon.