There’s no Masters Athlete hall of fame, but if there were, we’d nominate Wally Ghia, a dying man who fulfilled his wish to get back on a bike. Not just to ride, but to race.
Writer Ian Dille recently wrote about the 74-year-old mountain biker for Bicycling magazine, and the article resonated widely. “Normally a quick story like that will get a few shares,” says Dille, whose piece appeared just days ago. “But Wally’s article was quickly shared hundreds of times.”
What appealed to readers, and why you should read it: Wally Ghia is the best kind of testimony to the cliché that we die as we live. The former Manhattan “Mad Men”–type advertising man now lives in Durango, Colorado. According to Dille, Ghia has ridden his bike for the last four decades, but now suffers from congestive heart failure. Doctors told him that he’s dying and directed him toward hospice care. Wally’s response, with the aid of morphine and supplemental oxygen, was to enter a mountain bike race.
“For Ghia, hospice care wasn’t just about waiting for the inevitable, but about embracing the time before it,” Dille writes.
“People I didn’t know wrote me personal notes of thanks,” says Dille, who hopes to further chronicle Ghia’s tale (apparently Ghia isn’t done telling it). “They said it changed their perspective on what might be end-of-life care.”