My name is Lisa Blaszko and this June I’ll be racing the Revolution3 Quassy Half in honor of a friend. Here’s my story:
In January of 2012, I was supposed to run the ING Miami Marathon with a good friend of mine, Aaron Cohen, who we all knew and loved as ACE. I was so excited for this race. Aaron was much more involved in the triathlon scene where he lived in Miami, but had run many half marathons and had been an athlete all his life. This was going to be his first full marathon and it would have been my 5th. Sometimes life has other plans for you, though, and I wasn’t able to make it to race day. I remember talking to Aaron and explaining why I wouldn’t be able to run. I knew he understood how upset I was, but this is something I will always look back on with regret.
Aaron past away less than 3 weeks later, on February 16th, 2012, and it has forever changed my outlook on life.
He had been cycling with a friend in the early morning on the Rickenbacker Causeway in Miami, FL when a driver, having left a local bar, was heading home and struck not just Aaron, but Aaron’s friend as well, with his car. The driver then fled leaving them both at the scene with no regard for their lives. Tragically, Aaron’s injuries were too severe and he passed away the following day. Since then the community has been a constant out pour of love and support for Aaron and his family. Unfortunately, the justice system did not come through and has left many people even more shocked and saddened.
When the driver was finally sentenced this past January he only received 364 days in jail (not prison) and 2 years house arrest because they didn’t have a blood alcohol level at the time of the accident. Even though the driver had a suspended license, prior cocaine drug charges and was caught on camera stumbling while his father covered up the damaged car with a tarp, it wasn’t enough. It basically sent the message to the public that you would be better off to flee. What is so disheartening is that Aaron isn’t the firstcyclist to be killed like this in South Florida. It seems to be an epidemic and something needs to change.
Many of Aaron’s friends, as well as concerned citizens, are working to spread the word to promote cycling and pedestrian safety. It is our hope that in the near future there will be an “Aaron’s Law” stating if you hit someone with a motor vehicle and leave the scene of the accident the sentencing guidelines will be just as strict as if it were a DUI manslaughter case.
Whether you knew Aaron for years, just met him briefly, or had only heard of him after his terrible tragedy, he is someone you will always remember. To say Aaron was an amazing person is a total understatement. He was an athlete (who had made it to the Olympic Trials in speed skating), friend, son, father, husband… There will never be another person like him. He was truly one of the kindest, most caring, funniest, good natured persons I have ever had the privilege to know and call a friend. His character was such a rarity. He always saw the positive and never judged others. It didn’t matter who you were, he treated everyone the same. He just had this very special way of bringing people and communities together and had even formed his own triathlon team. He was nothing short of wonderful.
He wrote this in a letter to another teammate and his words have continued to inspire many each and every day:
“I run because it does matter. I run because I find when we do, I surround myself with great and motivated people that understand and connect on a level that others may never understand.” -Aaron Cohen
“…with all the history and all of the accomplishments, I have never felt an athletic accomplishment greater than I did finishing my first 70.3.” -Aaron Cohen
I never thought I would sign up to be racing in a Half Ironman. Never mind the Revolution3 Quassy Half, where the course is known for it’s difficulty! I’m a runner. I’ve qualified and completed both the Boston and New York Marathon courses and I have a 3:18 marathon PR. Swimming and cycling are staples in my training, and I do love endurance sports, but running just comes much more naturally. But, I don’t think I could have said why I run any better than Aaron did and on the anniversary of his death I knew just how I wanted to honor him. I can’t wait to feel that accomplishment he describes when I race my first 70.3 in June.
Thank you to the Revolution3 Team for helping me spread the word and continuing to keep Aaron’s memory alive. “Never forgotten, always loved, forever missed.” This one’s for you, ACE.