Harlequin Superromance author and PHS editor Jeannie Watt shares what makes triathlete Matt Miller a very special guy.
I’m a runner, and when I received my September 2002 edition of Runner’s World, my first thought was, “Wow--this cover guy is gorgeous." He was obviously hero material, so I stashed the magazine in my hero file and every now and then I'd pull it out for inspiration.
When it came time to write this blog, I decided to learn more about my favorite cover guy. I spent an evening on the internet and discovered that Matt Miller is a hero—the real life kind. He’s a man who’s making a difference.
Matt is an Ironman triathlete. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Ironman is the queen mother of triathlons and consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile marathon. In the 1990s Matt traveled the world competing as an elite amateur in triathlon competitions, but he also looked for ways to give back. One of those ways was to volunteer as a race guide to a blind athlete.
In 2001, Matt guided Heidi Musser, who has been blind since birth, as she competed in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon. This triathlon is slightly less demanding than an Ironman—*only* a 0.5 mile swim , an 18 mile bike ride and a 4 mile run. Piece of cake, right? Uh, yes…
Matt and Heidi successfully swan, rode (on a tandem bike) and ran the race. After finishing the Nautica, Matt and Heidi competed in other triathalons and in 2005 Matt guided Heidi through her first Ironman in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Four other visually impaired athletes and their guides competed with them.
Inspired by his experiences, and having witnessed societal prejudices against blind athletes, Matt decided to do what he could to change public perception. In 2005, after the Coeur d’Alene triathalon, he founded the C Different Foundation, which focuses on helping blind and visually impaired athletes train and compete in athletic activities by pairing them with sighted guides. Because of C Different, visually impaired athletes and their guides are now competing in athlete events around the world.
In 2009, Avon developed an Ironman product line and Matt is now the face for those products due to both his personal physical prowess and his dedication to helping others.
I think this statement by Heidi Musser sums up why Matt Miller is the perfect inspirational Male on Monday: “Matt is a terrific athlete, and much, much more. He has the recipe for infinite opitimism, unconquerable lust of life and never-running out energy to give of himself to make someone else happy. He has thrown out our culturally defined attitudes towards physically challenged athletes. He is not only my guide; he is also my teacher to help me discover my potential as a contributing member of society.”
If you’d like to learn more about the C Different Foundation, please check out their website www.cdifferent.com or watch this (3:38 minute) video .
Matt Miller—truly hero material.
Jeannie Watt writes cowboys, cops and cooks. The books of her latest Superromance trilogy, Too Many Cooks?--The Baby Truce, Undercover Cook and Just Desserts--are currently available wherever good books are sold.
To learn more about Jeannie and her books, visit www.jeanniewatt.com.