Competitive triathlete Justin Durst truly is an "ironman"— resilient and tough, with remarkable endurance. The same could be said of his father Carl. On Veteran's Day 2008, 67-year-old Carl Durst was driving to his home in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, when he experienced the sudden and frightening symptoms of stroke. Remarkably, he was able to pull to the side of the road and call 911 on his cell phone. An ambulance reached him within minutes and he was transported to Anne Arundel Medical Center. After days of acute care, the Durst family faced an important decision: it was clear Carl would need inpatient rehabilitation, but which hospital would be the right choice for him?
"We simply didn't know where to turn," says Carl's wife Betty. "Then a friend of my son Justin recommended NRH. Her husband had suffered a stroke and had been treated at NRH, and she couldn't say enough good things about the hospital."
So Carl was transferred to NRH in late November to begin his rehabilitation and spent more than a month as an inpatient at NRH. Today he is continuing his rehab at NRH Regional Rehab's outpatient center in Mitchellville, Maryland. While he still struggles with his speech and has some weakness on the right side of his body, he is making progress. "My family is extremely grateful to the staff at NRH for their wonderful care," says Justin. "I'm confident that the positive strides in my father's recovery are the result of therapy he received at NRH in the weeks immediately following his stroke."
Justin, 38, always had a passion for running — and for pushing himself to his physical limit. "When I watched my first triathlon and I said to myself, 'I can do that.'" The most difficult triathlon, aptly named nicknamed the Ironman, is a grueling 140.6 mile race, consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, followed by a marathon of 26.2 miles.
In 2001, Justin competed in his first sprint distance triathlon, and by 2006 he had completed his first Ironman race. And on July 26, he will be participating in the 2009 Ironman USA in Lake Placid, NY. But for Justin, this race is about more than proving his physical prowess. Justin has joined with other athletes in the Janus Charity Challenge, in which competitors raise funds for the charity of their choice. This year, in gratitude for the care his father received, Justin selected NRH as his charity of choice. Now in full training mode, he has set two important goals for himself: to collect $5000 in donations for the hospital, and to break his record time of 15 hours.
More than 40 athletes will be not only competing against each other for the fastest time, but also challenging each other to raise the most money. "Janus makes additional contributions, up to $10,000, to the charities of top fundraising athletes," Justin explains. In the last seven years, the Janus Charity Challenge has raised more than $34 million for non-profit organizations all across the country.
Carl is rightfully proud of his son — and honored by his efforts for NRH. "I'm very grateful to NRH for the care I received. I'm happy to watch as Justin's pledges for support grow and grow — and will be cheering him on as he crosses the finish line."