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DEAR KONA

January 7, 2017

Dear Kona,

Next Sunday, you have a rendezvous with my brother Tom Hulsey as well as all the other competitors, at IRONMAN World Championship, the Super Bowl of triathlons. Understand, we all know you will put up a fight, that you will not go quietly into the good night. The conditions you’ll throw at them are downright inhumane from rough surf to unforgiving & unrelenting heat to time that never seems to end. You intend to break them, to cause them to lose their will to keep going, and ultimately, to quit.

But understand this, my friend, you don’t know Tom and you will find him to be most uncooperative with your plan. To Tom, the word “quit” is the ultimate and unmentionable four-letter word. It is a word that does not exist in his vocabulary, and frankly, he has no time to waste learning what it means. Try as you might, he will not quit.

Instead, you will find Tom to be relentless. He will not stop regardless of conditions, regardless of how he’s feeling. This is a man who has stared into the great abyss to overcome cancer in the last year. Sure, he had his down times dealing with it but I never heard him ask why him or feel sorry for himself. Quitting, giving in was never considered. He just kept going and started making new goals. He also realized that he had a message of hope he could spread to others and has done so with ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer where he has become a valued fundraiser and team member. Just a little over 2 months ago, he competed in the full Ironman Lake Placid 2016. You ask did he finish? Of course he did! What kind of question is that?

You need to understand that long before cancer, his outlook on life was formed. In the ‘60s, Tom grew up in Wisconsin during the glory years of the Green & Gold, listening and learning the gospel of Lombardi. Nothing short of giving it your best and going beyond your abilities wasn’t just something that sounded nice – it was expected and anything less was not tolerated. I know this to be completely true as I was lectured many times as Tom’s little brother. Later, Tom was further shaped by the 1980 Miracle on Ice. While he loved the team and reveled in the Miracle, he most admired Herb Brooks, the coach responsible for putting the team together. Brooks was another coach who expected nothing but the best and would do everything to ensure the success of the team including some of the best mind games ever. I have no doubt that if Tom had played for Team USA, he would have been the guy wanting to keep skating Brooks’ infamous “Herbies” when the rest of the team was dropping. In years since, I’ve heard Tom say that if he could have, he would have loved to have played for Lombardi and Brooks.

I give you this brief glimpse into the background of Tom Hulsey to let you that no matter what you throw at Tom on Sunday to stop him, you will fail. If anything, the more obstacles presented during Ironman, the more determined & motivated Tom will be. You should move on to the next person because I assure you that you will be disappointed. Your efforts to break Tom will be unsuccessful.

Good luck, Tom! You can and will do it! Expect nothing less than the best and go for it!

Brian Hulsey

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