My entire life changed in an instant and I had no control over it. My name is Jon Desens and I’m the victim of a hit and run that took away my ability to walk for months, but this year I’m running in my first full marathon.
September 15, 2016 was one of the worst days of my life. I was headed into work on my motorcycle when a car pulled out in front of me to make a left-hand turn. There was nowhere for me to go and no way to avoid crashing and I ended up hitting the vehicle in its back corner. The foot peg on my bike went into my leg and my motorcycle dragged me roughly 50 feet down the road. The person who hit me never even stopped. I was left broken, by no fault of my own, and with no answers as to why.
Luckily, the people behind me stopped to help, and I was transported to Froedtert Hospital to be treated for the multiple severe injuries to my foot, ankle and leg. I was incredibly blessed to only have soft tissue damage and no broken bones, but I wasn’t able to walk for six months. It was only with a lot of determination and work that I was able to walk again.
While I sat on my couch recovering, I watched a Netflix series about ultramarathon runners. I had never considered myself a runner, but something about these ultramarathon runners stuck with me. I thought what they did was incredible and I wondered if I would ever be able to do that one day.
In my short adult life, I had already served as a member of the U.S. Army and I would regularly participate in the annual 20-Mile Ruck March with the local 4th H.O.O.A.H. Wisconsin Chapter, but the year after my accident I could only watch and cheer on my friends from the sidelines. I was determined to join my fellow veterans for the next march.
I did the 2017 Ruck March with them, but my injury caused me severe pain. My ankle was weak and really sore by the end of the 20-mile march.
I still had the idea of wanting to do a marathon in my head, but after completing the Ruck March I didn’t know if it was realistic. The way I saw it, if I didn’t do a marathon, I would never get over the hit and run and then the driver of the vehicle would win.
This year, I officially committed to running the Community First Fox Cities Marathon Presented by Miron Construction. This marathon will be the start of what I hope will be a long career in running. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll even do a triathlon.
My fiancé and I recently moved back to Appleton from Milwaukee and we’re getting married in June of this year. She has been by my side as I struggled with the accident and my recovery and she will be at the finish line cheering me on, along with my parents, no matter when I cross.
I don’t have a finish time that I’m trying to reach, although I think crossing the finish line in under five hours would be great. However, I just want to finish, even if that means I have to walk the last half of the race. Finishing the race is what I can control and that is what brings me to the finish line.
I have no answers and no closure as to why that driver cut me off and why they never stopped. I never will, but I can find peace in the fact that I have control over my life. I can control what I make of the bad situation that happened to me and that is why I’m running in the Fox Cities Marathon this year.