This story has been archived from the Monday, August 21, 2006

Family’s journey is for good cause

Opinion by MILO F. BRYANT

David Pokorny and his mom, Pat, had to finish the journey together.

Any other way, and the end would have been anticlimactic.

Mother and son started their 990-mile Pikes Peak trek Aug. 3 in St. Louis. On Sunday, David stopped just before the journey ended, at the finish of the Pikes Peak Marathon.

Pat, 70, and David’s 7-year-old son, Clayton, were waiting for him. The three held hands, jogged the final 40 feet and crossed the line together.

Smiles and hugs followed.

“I said to myself coming down, ‘If I’m in a sprint, I’m going to let them have it,’” said David, 38. “I’m going to cross the line with my mom!

“I’m just glad there were no footsteps behind me.”

Like many in the marathon, Pokorny endured the 26.21-mile course for a cause. Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) took away Pat’s kidneys and put her on dialysis and a transplant list.

Pat was fortunate. She received a kidney transplant eight years ago and is living well.

Pat and 600,000 others in this country with PKD are why David made his unusual trip to the Front Range.

David ran in last year’s Pikes Peak Marathon, finishing 55th in 5 hours, 13 minutes, 1 second. David knew he’d return. Pikes Peak was too intoxicating to do only once. But he wanted it to be more than just a race.

David wanted to raise the awareness of PKD.

“This wasn’t about David being able to do this or about me being along to support him,” Pat said, soon after David finished 22nd in 4:46:29. “I think it’s about the disease. There are so many people who are born with this. You can’t just give a pill for this. You’ve got to find a more complex cure.”

David broached his plan to Pat, who was all for it. David would ride his bicycle from St. Louis to Manitou Springs. This being the 200th anniversary of Zebulon Pike’s westward journey, David followed closely to Pike’s original route.

“It wasn’t direct but we basically followed the Missouri, the Osage and the Arkansas rivers until we got to Pueblo and then north up to here,” he said. “I had friends who came across Missouri with me. After that it was just mom and me and my friend Bill (Wrede).”

David is the marketing director for Fox Sport Net Midwest. His job is to create packages people want to buy. This trek was no different.

David sold Pat’s story. He sold his upcoming endeavors even though, he said, the “Hey, look at me!” attitude isn’t a part of his personality.

“I knew the goal was worthy,” David said. “But, I just want to train and I just want to run hard. I want to run a good race and not make it a big deal. I feel glad to have raced well because I know a lot of people were kind of watching.

“The bottom line is it worked. We got a lot of really good people interested in PKD. We’ve had a lot of people e-mail and say, ‘I’ve decided to become an organ donor because of your mom and you.’ It makes me glad we did it.”

More than 13 miles up a mountain and another 13 miles down after 990 miles on a bike — that’s going the extra mile.

“It was an incredible opportunity,” David said, tears beginning to fill his eyes. “To be able to take on the challenge and to have mom here — I just feel real lucky.”

Copyright 2006, The Gazette, a division of Freedom Colorado Information. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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