Paying It Forward


As they say, love can make you do amazing things. Garry Welsh, who is a business consultant from Windermere, took his competitive spirit and this past November applied it to a 140.6 mile Ironman triathlon race in Arizona. His wife’s courageous spirit drove his determination as he raced in her honor.

When Christine Welsh was diagnosed with lung cancer, both were stunned, as she was a non-smoker. “Christine had complained about pain on the right side of her chest. We ended up in the hospital,” Garry says. “She cried for maybe a minute.”

The top section of Christine’s right lung was removed and fortunately, she didn’t need chemo treatments. In fact, Christine felt better so quickly that she was able to run her first half marathon only a mere four months later.

Garry was so inspired by her strength and grace, he decided to run the triathlon in order to help raise funds for lung cancer research at Florida Hospital. Never mind that he had never competed in a triathlon before and is a grandfather to five. He was determined. “A year ago I couldn’t swim freestyle. So I got a coach,” Garry says. With a fierce commitment and passion, he worked hard toward his goal. The marathon included a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run. “My lungs helped her lungs,” Garry says.

Along with a trainer, Garry credits a vegan diet for helping him get into shape. “Six days a week I’ve been training with a coach for flexibility, nutrition, and strength endurance,” Garry says.

As a big thank you to Florida Hospital, his goal was to raise $60,000 for cancer research. “My plan was to do this and then to race in one triathlon on each continent between now and age 55,” Garry says.

“We are so grateful for Garry Welsh’s commitment to the mission of Florida Hospital. As a dedicated board member, the support that Garry provides in promoting awareness and raising funds aids our physicians and researchers. Garry has spread the message of generosity throughout our community,” David Collis, chief development officer, Florida Hospital Foundation, says.

“There are a few seconds in the beginning of the race where I think I must be crazy,” Garry says. “But, when someone says you can’t do something, I say everybody has far more in the tank than they realize. You make a commitment then put the action behind it. The trick is to find the trigger that helps you tap into your potential.” For Garry, that trigger is Christine’s big smile as she welcomes him past the finish line.


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Written by Kimberly Kimmel