Our Story: Phase 1
Mike Ory was diagnosed with Stage 4 malignant melanoma in May 2010. Since that first diagnosis four more followed. He had been told multiple times that he was in remission. He had been told he was cured..... In 2015 he was told the cancer was back for the 5th time. This time it was a tumor next to his stomach. Over the years the cancer found its way to Mike’s lymph nodes, gall bladder, duodenum, groin, brain, shoulder, etc., etc., etc...
Over those five years, Mike made countless trips to Houston for medical care. On his most recent visit to MD Anderson he was told he would need to be there every three weeks for the next two years.
And the dude never complained!!
Inspired by Mike's journey through cancer treatment, TeamOry was created.
Jason Higgins: In January of 2014, I showed up at the Crawfish Aquatics swimming pool one morning at 5 a.m., borrowed a bike from my buddy’s wife the next week....and my triathlon journey began. I did my first two sprint triathlons two and three months later. Deciding I needed to go bigger I called up a good friend of Mike’s and mine, Phillip Lahaye, who works for Ironman. After a pep talk from Phillip, I signed up for a 1/2 Ironman - a 70.3-mile race in Augusta, GA. After completing the race on September 29, 2014, the first thing Jeanne said to me was.... You’re going to go bigger, aren't you??
Fast forward six months, after hunting and LSU football season (gained 20 pounds) and I remembered I was supposed to "go bigger not get bigger." I started training again in April 2015. Not sure what I was training for or when but knowing a full Ironman race was the ultimate goal. So again, I called up Phillip. He laughed and said to call him in June when I was serious.... And to lose some weight!!
I kept training and by the end of June my body started to breakdown. Right knee IT band tendinitis, right Achilles tendinitis, severe neck pain when biking to go along with all the general aches that come along with training. My motivation was waning, my body hurt and damn I was tired.
About the same time that I was ready to stop the madness and drop out of training Mike was re-diagnosed in June of 2015. I had always wondered what I could do to help a lifelong friend battle the beast of cancer. And I have always felt a little lost and helpless. I spend a lot of time praying but always felt I could do more. And then I saw a possible opportunity.... I'd help raise money for Mike and all the hidden costs of a cancer diagnosis. All while getting the motivation to complete an Ironman- Help Me Help You. So, with a lot of convincing (Mike is a proud and stubborn man) TeamOry was created!!
After a lot of prayer, physical therapy (dry needling sucks) and newfound motivation.... All of my aches and pains resolved. I was back on track with my training program to compete in the Ironman Maryland Race on October 3, 2015. Then entered Hurricane Joaquin.... projected to hit, not the ever-alert Gulf coast area but, the east coast exactly where we were heading for the race. Hearing of the official race cancelation brought obvious disappointment but understanding and prayers for those who were in the path of the storm.
So, it was back to training (and trying to undo the last week of race prep carb loading). But by the grace of God and the help of a great friend, hopefully it wouldn't be much longer. I was able to sign up for the next Ironman Race on October 11, 2015, in Louisville, Kentucky. Again, the race included a 2.4-mile swim, 112 miles of biking and a 26.2-mile run. The difference... the course difficulty, basically the hills of Kentucky, so the new goal was to finish somewhere between 15 to 17 hours.
Give a little each mile....
On October 11th, I ran my race. With thoughts of Mike motivating me onward and a team of supporters tracking my progress I completed the race in a little over 10 hours. Through it all we were incredibly humbled by the number of donations we received. It was a true testament to Mike's character and his endless friendships.
So just like that TeamOry was created. And while we all thought of TeamOry as a bunch of friends and family raising money for Mike. He saw it differently. He wanted to build his own version of TeamOry. Be assured that 100% of the money collected was to go directly to Michael Ory. But here's the catch. Mike refused to accept a handout from anyone. His vision included helping other cancer patients who "weren't as fortunate as him." Who was I to tell Mike how to spend the money we raised for him. I said he was stubborn and proud.... Maybe unselfish was a better description.
Every penny of the initial money we raised and the money we continue to raise in Mike's name is used to finance the hidden costs of cancer for TeamOry.....Mike’s version of TeamOry!!