After Capt. Gerard Petroni’s stroke and brain bleed in November 2006, he couldn’t speak, eat or walk. Six months later, while his son Erik laid next to him in bed reading to him, he asked his father, “Dad, if you could write anything, the words that are the most important to you, to tell all of your kids and your wife, what would you write?” Erik handed his father a paper and a thick black sharpie, and with the first words he had ever written since his brain bleed, with a firm pressed hand Gerard slowly scratched out “NEVER QUIT”.
Gerard NEVER QUIT for his family and his family NEVER QUIT for him.
- This part is personally from me, Erik, to all of you… My father lived a hard life, he had no parents as he grew up in an orphanage. As a young man, Gerard went on to serve our country in the U.S. Military in Korea and Vietnam. He worked on board ships, working his way from washing toilets on ships to eventually becoming a a ships Master. Perhaps this hard life, with no parents to turn to, is why he put so much priority on my mother and us kids. He loved us all so very much.
When my father suffered his stroke and brain bleed, and our family not knowing if he would live, I begged God to make any kind of deal with me, so that Dad would be well again. If it was to end my life, so Dad could live to be there for Mom, I would give anything. I begged God. Over time, I began to realize, God does not make deals. But as sad as it was at the time, I learned more about love and persistence in those 3 years with Dad, than I have for all of my 42 years on earth combined.
Dad wrote NEVER QUIT about 6 months after his brain bleed. About 3 months later, I was outside trying to help him walk again, and out of no where he spoke and said, “Erik, thank you for pushing me 1,000% and never quitting for me. I will never quit for you Erik.” Tears started to run and I said, “Dad I will never quit for you.” His words to me that day, gave me so much hope and joy, energy and enthusiasm.
I realized all the more that you learn the most in the valleys of life. There is no greater joy than to love someone else, to give your all and never quit for someone else, even if it means to give your life for that person. Tears are starting … it is hard to write this… We all have someone that we can give our all for, to love with all our heart and soul, with all our strength and mind, even if it is a family member or a neighbor. Yet, in this world that we live in, we are taught… What is in it for “me”. An incorrect way to approach life. We can learn that there is no greater joy than to give our life for someone else. Who would you give your all for?
My father and mother have given their all for me, so have our Founding Fathers, and those who are in the Armed Forces. Above all, Christ – the author of Love gave His life for us. I guess He would be the ultimate person who NEVER QUIT for me, and you, and all mankind. I know I have opened up with the emotional side to this NEVER QUIT event and as hard as it is to no longer have Dad here, I have grown so much on how I can share this message and pass it onwards. We all can. That is the beauty of the NEVER QUIT message, we all own it.
I am sure many of you have lost a family member that is dear to you, or friends or family members that are hurt, or sad, or sick… let us NEVER QUIT for them, every day. Life goes by fast, and soon one day it will be over on this earth, and we will move on to have a new body. So while we are here on earth, lets make it really count. Lets give our all where it really matters, heart to heart. Because, only a life lived for others is a life worth living.
I hope to meet all of you soon.
Every participant will be able to write on their bib/runner’s tag with thick sharpie pens, who they will NEVER QUIT for. (Pens provided at Packet Pickup and morning of event) or personalize your bib at home before the race. (Please write clearly in a bold Sharpie pen so it can be seen clearly in the Free pictures that will be taken and provided to you. Make sure you use all 4 safety pins to secure your bib to your shirt. We need to clearly read your bib number from the pictures taken, to tag them correctly, so you can find them after your run)
The NEVER QUIT photographers will take pictures of you at the event. You can then go to www.NeverQuitNever.com See Race Pictures here and download full high resolution pictures. You can print or email the pictures, upload them to your Facebook page, etc., so the person you will NEVER QUIT for (i.e. family member or friend, someone you love and/or someone that is going through a tough time, injured, etc.) can see you giving it your best and that you will NEVER QUIT for them. It may just be the difference in turning their life around and/or changing it for the better. Perhaps they will see the love you have for them and it will let them know just how much they mean to you.
(Most, if not all races charge to access event pictures. The NEVER QUIT event pictures are 100% free to you, to spread your NEVER QUIT message of love onwards.)
You will also have pictures taken of you surfing, running into the ocean when you are about to do your TRIDENT swim or paddle, or as you are running out of the ocean, reaching to tag your next teammate. The images will capture a the beauty of this day, images that you will be so proud to own and show others. You can order a picture frame while registering for only $15. This frame will hold your personalized bib and two race photos. The perfect gift to give to the one you will NEVER QUIT for.
Thank you for coming. It is going to be a happy day.
In the picture from left to right, Sonya Petroni Brown, Capt. Gerard Petroni, Karina Petroni.