Some athletes appear to have it all. Viewed as naturally gifted, it seems that success must come easy. But what we often fail to see is the work behind the success and the struggle to triumph over adversity. For Richard Peters, accomplishing his dreams has not always been a trip down easy street.
Richard, age 29, has been running track & field, cross-country, marathons and relays since the age of 14. During his middle and high school years Richard was soaring high as one of the top high and low hurdlers in New England with multiple school, league and division and records. By 2001 he was competing at the National Junior Olympic level and was awarded with the Winston R. MacDonald “Outstanding Male Track & Field Athlete of the Year”
Peter’s story is a mix of world-class talent, devastating setbacks and, at the moment, some unrealized goals. He would tell you, however, that it’s a tale of survival.
To understand why, you have to go back.
At the age of 12 Richard was diagnosed with a severe case of Crohn’s Disease a chronic inflammation of the intestines that is manageable, but remains incurable. After battling Crohn’s for nearly 10 years Richard learned he had Adenocarcinoma, a cancer of the small intestines and stage 0 colon cancer.
Richard learned this news shortly after moving to Boston to start his career as a Professional Photographer and continue his dream of training for the Olympic Games. Unfortunately, the treatment sidelined him and deprived him of the one thing he had worked hardest at since middle school, his dreams of becoming an Olympic athlete.
At the time, Richard chose to go down the road of recovery alone with very few people knowing about his illness, including his parents and family, because he did not want to worry them.
After completing treatment Richard slowly but surely started running again and training for Marathons - a foreign concept since he had been a sprinter and jumper his whole life. Since his remission he has ran 8 Marathons, one for each year he has been Cancer free.
Richard treats every race as a way to give back to the community and show others that support and love are the best medicine. As he puts it, “You don’t have to give up your dreams or push the people that mean the most to you away just because you are sick.”
In 2011 Richard began his training towards aspirations of competing in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Over the course of 2012 he will travel the country as an Athlete Ambassador and run in over 15 – 200 mile Ultra Ragnar Relay Series Races, as well as the 1st Annual Boston Athletic Association Distance Medley, The UnitedHealthCare Triple Crown of Running and over 30 more races ranging from 5k’s to an Ironman. Plus many more over the course of the next 4 years.
Nearly every race, marathon, relay or activity in which Richard participates he treats as a way to give back by fund-raising. As such, he is a member of multiple foundations and teams including:
• Lance Armstrong Foundation – Team Member
• Human Rights Campaign – Elite Athlete -4- Equality
• Team BioFuel -4- Project Humanity - Team Captain
• Holiday Heroes Foundation – Ambassador & Captain
• Hall Steps Foundation – Team Member
• Harbor to the Bay – Board Member & Rider
• Back on my Feet – Team Member
• NOH8 Campaign – Elite Athlete -4- Equality
• Wounded Warrior Project – Team Member
To date Richard has raised over $250,000 for these organizations combined. This is a man on a mission. For now, though, he’s simply relishing being back on the path to achieving his limits.
“Bringing myself back to the level I was when cancer took it all away, that is my fulfillment, whatever comes after that is a bonus.”