Once upon a time, there was young man named Matt Breen.
Matt loved sport and his mates, and decided to go backpacking through Europe with them after graduating from school.
He having a blast as they hopped from country to country, until one day, he had a missed call from his Mum.
Knowing something was up, he quickly called her back:
“Matt… it's your Dad. He's dead."
He was in shock, and as he told his mates that he was going home, he thought back to a missed call from Dad days earlier, where he’d left a voicemail saying:
“Matt… I love you".”
His Dad's suicide was incredibly tough on Matt, and felt guilty for missing his Dad’s call.
To avoid the pain, Matt developed a "head down, bum up" approach of getting on with things.
And for a while, it worked.
Until one day, when his Mum was diagnosed with cancer, resurfaced all the pain from his father's death 10 years earlier.
And because Matt’s approach of “just getting on with things” had worked in the past, he believed that pain could be avoided if he just focused on things he could control.
But while the thought of losing another parent was overwhelming, he still stayed active, and although it didn’t cure his Mum’s cancer, it did help him to feel better and stay strong.
And when his Mum's cancer worsened, he decided he needed to do something to help others who where also doing it tough.
So he organise a weekly run and just like that… Running For Resilience (R4R) was born!
Now less than 2 years later, nearly 100 people gather every Wednesday at the Kingston Foreshore for run, followed by a beer and a chat.
After coming to the first few runs, Matt's Mum is sadly no longer with us, but her legacy lives on who along with Matt's Dad, look down proudly on their son and see what he's doing for others.
And long may it continue.
I’ve previously written about how retiring from professional sport is tough, and despite knowing what I wanted to do when I retired, my transition from footy has been bumpy and hit rock bottom in late 2019.
I’d started building Alfred during the final seasons of my career and knew it’s what I wanted to do.
But 18 months after hanging up the boots and 3 failed attempts to launch, I was still no closer to making it happen.
I felt lost and was so angry at myself for being unable to get Alfred going, but a week after things had truly gone off the rails, the Dock got an email from a bloke named Matt looking to host a weekly run.
parkrun helped keep me active during the double whammy of retirement and my Grandmother’s death, and thought of another run outside the Dock each week at a time when I was struggling was music to my ears!
So I quickly replied yes and said we’d shout every runner a beer, and within a couple of weeks the first R4R was held!
As I get older, I think it gets harder to make new friends.
A lot of my mates have left Canberra, and most who stayed are juggling family and work commitments, which leaves little time for catching up.
In my opinion the best part about playing a team sport professionally is getting paid to exercise with your mates all day, and while it’s not impossible to make new friends, I’ve found working alone from home tough.
And while the exercise part of R4R is great, what I really love is being apart of a fun and welcoming community who each week, drown themselves in Endorphins and follow it up with a beer and a laugh.
Getting to know Breeny has been a privilege and I’ve never met anyone I want to see succeed more than him, as he’s somehow continues to stay positive, despite going through so much.
Apart from his parents, even his kelpie “Mate” has been through the wringer after losing an eye as a pup in a dog attack.
To see his strength and resilience during his Mother’s death has been inspiring, and something I’ve drew from during the recent death of my Grandpa.
He’s also helped me put my career struggles back into perspective, which helped me keep my spirits up while I searched for a new Alfred team.
Exercising with good people has done it again!
A while back, some of the runners started calling the rusty arc where we start and finish our run from the “Arc de Resilience” as a homage to the slightly better known Arc de Triomphe.
As more and more runners started calling it that, Dock co-owner and ideas man Shooter one day thought aloud:
“What if we got it officially named that?”
I initially baulked at the amount of work I thought would be involved, thinking the government red tape would be impossible to cut through.
But we gave it go and I’ve been amazed at how smooth everything went, as many people chipped in to make the whole process a breeze.
From the head of the Foreshore Body Corporate who helped write emails, to the Chief Minister who approved the naming in time to surprise Breeny on R U OK? Day, I’ve been amazed at how much people have been willing to help.
And while I may have cursed his name yesterday, it’s fair to say that Andrew Barr has a bit on his plate.
But the fact he even got the Arc up on Google Maps reminds me the while people can be frustrating at times, most people’s hearts are in the right place.
Breeny’s mission with R4R is to save lives from suicide, and that’s a mission I believe is worthy of support.
And soon Breeny will start a blog of his own as a way of getting his message out there where it’s needed most.
Even if you’re not apart of the R4R community, I recommend subscribing as he’ll interview members of the community, along with sharing his thoughts on all things Running and Resilience.
We’ll also be celebrating R4R’s 2nd Birthday in early December (restrictions permitting) and will unveil a plaque for the arc with Breeny’s parents name on it, along with a few other surprises.
Hope to see you there!
Just. Keep. Moving.