Dane County Juvenile Justice, Gang Unit
“Just do it…” That’s Nike’s slogan and for thousands of people it has been the motivation they need to get off their comfortable couches and do something to improve their health.
That’s what one of June’s New Faces did. And boy, did Aaron Perry have his share of excuses and reasons to sit back and simply wait for change to come in his life. But Aaron is a smart guy, ambitious too, so he got up and got out and started to run and jump and swim and do all the things that an ironman competitor does.
His doctor never said he couldn’t do, but he never said he could or even should. But Aaron is his own man with a will that cannot be denied no matter what the challenge. So he began his road to personal victory, overcoming the obstacles that led to the overweight frame and poor health he once lived with.
Behind him, but still deep in his memory bank were the rough times he knew growing up; the loss of his mother who was killed when he was a senior in high school. He couldn’t shake the image of his two brothers who had turned to alcohol, possibly because of the pain they knew. So many crosses to bear. To it all Aaron says, “Everybody’s got something.”
And so his journey to a different place, a better place went into high gear. He started training; hired a swim coach; watched others who had what he wanted. He locked in on a woman whose story would be an inspiration to him to work hard and achieve the goals he set for himself. This woman weighed in at approximately 300 pounds but that didn’t stop her from competing. He built up the nerve to approach her and she challenged him to stop making excuses and get out on the course.
Today, Aaron is a bona fide ironman. It’s not so much about how he fares against the field, although he has done extremely well, it’s about the personal satisfaction he gets from doing what he set out to do and more.
The training and conditioning has paid off for him in his day job. In the Gang Unit, he is able to keep up with youth especially when they think “This old guy will be petering out.”
The trick’s on them, as it is when his competitors in the ironman events think they have him. Aaron seems to have a little more left in the tank. And oh yeah, his diabetes, no problem these days. It’s a serious illness, he reminds us. But he knows that if he takes his meds as prescribed, gets his exercise and diets properly, diabetes isn’t a life sentence. He is determined to win the most important challenge he faces – living a healthy lifestyle.