Dear Friends and Teammates:
Mr. Michael Martin McDonnell (his full name) was a truly wonderful gentleman who did so much in his 85 years on this planet.(Sept 30, 1965 to March 5, 2021). He did so much for so many. He was there for all of us. He was a great family man. He was a great FBI man. He was a proud alumnus of St Benedict's Prep and Seton Hall University. He traveled the world. He was a proud Shore AC teammate. And he was much more
It was good that several of us were able to attend the viewing Monday and some the service Tuesday morning at St. Mary's Church. I was there and, with tears still in my eyes many hours later, want to report to all that teammate Mike received the very best of sendoffs, with services conducted by his brother, Father Patrick McDonnell and a very eloquent address by eldest son Mike Jr.
Let it be known now, thanks to Mike Jr,, that Mike was an Olympian in spirit. He did not compete in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games but served in the FBI security group there and, just as has happened to many who experience the Olympic Games for the first time. Mike quickly got caught up in the Olympic atmosphere of universality and total dedication to the visions of a better world through friendly health-building and lively competition.
Soon as Mike returned from Los Angeles he embarked on the training programs he would follow all the rest of his days. He became a road runner and soon he was entering every race he possibly could, 5Ks to half marathons and full marathons, surely smiling through every step of them. Some days, when the time schedule allowed, he'd even run two races in one day. When a progressive illness precluded him from running these "long ones" in recent years, Mike - with coaching by his family - reinvented himself as a sprinter. And so one of his greatest recent joys was taking part in the Masters 80-up 100-meter dash at the Penn Relays, an event sometime seen by over 50,000 fans and a worldwide television audience, When some kidded, "Mike, don't let that 100-year-old woman beat you," his smile set a world record, too.
Like so many of us, Mike loved the Lake Takanassee Races in Long Branch, where the "new" Shore AC was born in the early 1960s. Mike ran those 5Ks - every Monday night through the summer for years and years. When the 2019 "Lake Tak" season rolled around, Mike wasn't quite up to going the 5K distance. So - true to form - he set another great example for all of us, by volunteering to assist his fellow runners. There he was yelling out one-mile "split" times at "Lake Tak." When we gave him a stirring round of applause at the concluding session of the series, Mike's smile was again a record-breaker.
How much did all this running and comraderies and years-long friendships and his favorite club team represent to Mike, dear wife Bunny, and the McDonnell family? Obviously, the world.
The single photo chosen for the "official program" to the services showed Mike in all his glory, proudly wearing his Shore AC singlet ("Lake Tak" variety) striding to yet another finish line, hands raised in the "victory salute" every racer can experience at the end of a run well done.
We were able to read Mike's goodbye message on the opposite side of the "program."
Mr. Michael Martin McDonnell wanted to remind all of us that:
"Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always."
That was our beloved Mike.
These, of course, are very difficult days.
A pandemic is still raging, We do not know "when this whole thing will be over."
So are the debates centering on the challenges our proud nation - and our fellow occupants of this planet - must ponder.
But, as we do, lessons are being taught.
The most basic, of course, is that "we're all in this together,"
Let's continue making Mike proud of all we do.
Most sincerely written,
Elliott Deman: Elliottden@aol.com.