Wayne State's Warriors and the Ironman
You wanna hear about good kids in Detroit? Here you go.
This Sunday, Wayne State University graduate Lisa Seymour and three other Warriors will do their first marathon.
So what? They're doing it as volunteer guides for a blind runner.
Not just any blind runner. This is Richard Bernstein, who has completed 10 marathons, including an Ironman triathlon.
For those of you from Detroit, you already know Richard. He is the son of Sam Bernstein, the personal-injury attorney who advertises non-stop during daytime television. (The 1-800-Call-Sam guy.)
Those of you who love college softball know Lisa Seymour. She graduated from WSU in May after an outstanding career as an athlete and student. Now, she is studying to receive her MBA in marketing and works as a grad assistant in the university's athletics department.
That is how Lisa and Richard first heard of one another. Richard is Chair of the Wayne State Board of Governors, and he asked the AD if any students would help him run in this weekend's Detroit Free Press/Flagstar Bank marathon.
Lisa said she and her three teammates -- Vince Bechard, Robin Coolsaet and Adham Aljahmi – jumped at the chance.
“At some point, we always wanted to run a marathon,” Seymour said of herself and (most of) her teammates.
This is the kind of thing great student athletes do, said Rob Fouriner, the university's athletic director. WSU prioritizes public service for its teams, he said. Last year, the Warriors had a goal of completing 4,000 hours of public service. They came in just over 5,500.
There's more. Every one of its nearly 400 student athletes has a grade point of 3.0 or higher.
At WSU, “you'll find kids truly engaged not only in their campus but in the community as well,” Fouriner said. “It reflects the work ethic of Detroit.”
So far, Team Bernstein has not had a chance to train together. But Bernstein tells them it will be easy, Seymour said. She laughed at this, but Seymour notes that Bernstein's enthusiasm probably will pull them all through the miles ahead.
Bernstein said his body is a little worn down from running so much lately. And he plans to run the New York marathon next month. So he'll go easy on his Warrior friends.
“I love these four kids,” Bernstein said. “I think they really embody the city and our community in every positive way possible. … I think they're going to make Detroit proud.”
Bernstein is legally blind and has been so since birth. He said he runs in part because of the freedom it gives him.
“It creates a much stronger sense of self-confidence. It really gives you the ability to know you always have what you need when you need it,” Bernstein said.
He knows something about endurance. Bernstein runs the pro bono part of his father's practice, which is based in Farmington Hills. He has taken on massive legal battles – including one forcing Detroit to upgrade its buses with wheelchair lifts for people with disabilities – and won. But it took years to do it.
Not to draw any grand conclusions, but it seems to me that this kind of spirit is what Detroit needs right about now.
“I just wish people in the surrounding area realized what a great athletic department we have in Detroit,” Seymour said.
Now, they do.