You may have heard about various marathons and other running events that happen at Walt Disney World in Florida. You may even have participated in a few of them. This weekend is a big one, the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. Not only is the event this weekend, but this event is in its twenty-fifth year. That means that people have been participating in this 26.2 mile event for a quarter of a century!
The marathon course will go through Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, and ESPN Wide World of Sports. That will be an exciting route with so much to see. Well, there will be so much to see briefly as you breeze by. For even more added fun, runners will get to see various Disney characters and 25th Anniversary entertainment along the route.
You can see that this event is presented to you by Cigna. Maybe you are a client of Cigna. You may have even seen the Cigna commercial on television with the TV Doctors of America. If you have not, watch it now because it is cute and good for a laugh.
Cigna is an insurance company that serves a lot of folks and has many inspiring stories with joyful endings. One story is about someone in the military who sustained an injury that went on to affect his life for decades. I am choosing to share this story in part because it is incredible and in part because I have great respect for those who serve our country in small and big ways.
My father and two of my brothers served in the Navy and the Army. One of my brothers is a wounded war vet who served in Egypt and then later in Iraq where he was wounded in action. I am going to take a moment here to recognize Specialist Timothy Uebele because he gave a lot and lost a lot, and he is appreciated. Thank you for your service to Timothy and all of the others who make that choice.
We were talking about Cigna and their inspirational stories, so let us take a look now at a man named Mark who has gone from long term disability ro running the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 5K. Actually, I will let you read all about it.
Mark Harsanye, 58 years old and resident of Henderson, Nevada, near Las Vegas, figures the injury occurred more than 35 years ago during basic training in the United States Air Force. He climbed a 30ft tower when the wind took him. Gravity and the ground did rest, breaking his leg in two places.
“Over the years, normal wear and tear caught up with me,” said Mark. “In my 40s, my doctor warned me knee replacement surgery would be inevitable. I hoped that I could make it until 70, but the pain became unbearable. I just couldn’t do it anymore.”
He researched the surgery, the recovery time, and talked with others about it. He felt fairly well prepared for the procedure and the journey back to health and to work in June 2017. Twelve weeks later, he grew impatient as his knee still had a lot of scar tissue. So, he opted for another surgery to remove scar tissue.
“Before the replacement, I thought hard work would get me back on my feet faster,” said Mark. “After surgery, it felt more like ‘what did I do?’ I’m competitive. When I saw other s recovering faster, I wanted to become better. An in-home physical therapist helped, but the second surgery helped me improve the flexibility of my knee.”
Mark couldn’t wait to get back to work. Getting a call from his Cigna vocational coach, Alicia Troski, he found a partner with the energy he needed to make even greater strides.
“He came ready to work,” said Alicia. “He didn’t want to be dependent on anyone. That mentality means a lot when overcoming a difficult recovery process. For some, it’s easy to quit and fall back into an easy chair. Not Mark. He remained focused on getting himself back.
”One of the resources Alicia offered, the Cigna customer referral program with Achilles International, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people with disabilities participate in athletic events, encourages people like Mark to build up physical strength and stamina.
Cigna partners with organizations like Achilles International to help customers achieve their return to work goals by providing access to additional rehabilitation resources including ergonomic office equipment, software, education and accommodations to help customers stay safe and be productive at work, encouragement and support, resume review and job placement assistance.
“My employer has been supportive throughout my recovery process from accommodations to treatment,” said Mark. “If I needed a break to ice my knee, I could do it as I needed, when I needed. If I had to take off for therapy, I felt comfortable do so.”
As a result of his hard work and dedication to return to work, Cigna offered Mark the opportunity to participate in the Walt Disney World® 5K presented by Cigna on Thursday, January 4th as a member of Team Cigna.
“I have a plan – stretches, working my core, weight training,” said Mark. “If I did nothing, it would be like owning a sports car and letting it rot. I’m only going to get better by working at it.”
The Cigna Customer Referral Program with Achilles International demonstrates Cigna’s promise to partner with customers “Together, All the Way” along their unique health journey. When injury or illness occurs, Cigna helps them get back on track to achieve their goals.
“For Cigna customers, participating in a race represents a healthy milestone on the road to recovery, but also independence,” said
Alicia. “As people gain physical strength, they also build confidence, which can positively affect all areas of your life.”
“I’ve come far, but I see it as just the beginning,” said Mark. “I’m back and work because of Bethany and none of this would have been possible without Cigna. So many resources came together to make things happen at my own pace.”
Resident of Henderson, Nevada, in Clark County (18 minutes outside of Las Vegas)
Cigna, long-term disability
Cigna customer referral program participant with Achilles International
Team Cigna guides: Lisa Bacus, Cigna Chief Marketing Officer, and Stephen Cassell, Cigna Vice President of Branding
Race: Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 5K