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Bagels & Bytes for August 1st, 2003
August 1st, 2003
We tried to share a bagel with Milwaukee mensch Marty Matsoff (left in photo), a businessman turned fundraiser extraordinaire. But, we could only catch up with the snowbird via telephone in Boca Raton, Fla.
Marty Matsoff has retired! Not from his profession as an insurance agent, but from his more recent avocation as a marathon runner.
The 56-year-old Milwaukee native had never run a block, much less a marathon, in his life. That is until last July when he decided to enter the Walt Disney World Marathon for Charity.
Its amazing, he said, what a little motivation can do.
At the Jan. 12 event in Orlando, Matsoff raised $22,000 and led the country in fundraising efforts for Prevent Blindness America, one of three charities that participants could represent.
The cause is near and dear to his heart because his daughter-in-law, Angie, was diagnosed with macular degeneration ten years ago and was declared legally blind at the age of 17.
This is not the first time that Matsoff has jumped in feet first to support a cause that affects someone he knows. When his wife, Randee, was diagnosed with colitis 12 years ago, he began raising funds for research for the Crohns & Colitis Foundation of America at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
He is vice chairman of the colleges Disease Research Center, which oversees fundraising and programming.
We coordinate an annual golf outing, where we bring in the countrys top female pros and host a health care dinner that has featured such speakers as [now Secretary of State] Colin Powell and [former British Prime Minister] Margaret Thatcher, he said.
And, because a friends child suffers from celiac disease, he volunteers with the Friends of Celiac Foundation and serves as treasurer of the local chapter.
A certified public accountant by training, Matsoff has been an insurance agent with Northwestern Mutual Life for the past 15 years.
He supports many civic and philanthropic organizations, and has served on the board of directors of the Jewish National Fund, Milwaukee Jewish Federation, Israel Bonds, Childrens Lubavitch Living and Learning Center and Friends of Froedtert Hospital.
Sometimes I wonder why I do what I do, he admitted, but in my heart I know its the right thing. Years ago, well-known Milwaukee philanthropist B. J. Sampson told me, Some people do nothing for charity. Others write a check. But the real mensch is the one who gives his time. And he was right.
In it to finish
Matsoff is proud of his daughter-in-law, an accomplished athlete who also participated in the race, describing her as a beautiful woman. Instead of feeling sorry for herself, she has excelled personally as a wife and mother of two children, and athletically as an entrant in several Ironman competitions, marathons and ultra-marathons.
He added that she was named the most inspirational athlete in South Florida in 1999 and was the first female physically challenged athlete to compete in the Hawaiian Ironman.
The [Orlando] race really turned into a family affair, boasted proud grandpa Matsoff, because my three-year-old grandson, Austin, got a medal for completing the one hundred-yard-dash in the 1-3 year-old age category.
Matsoff said his motto from the beginning was In it to finish! He never cared about his time until he learned that there was a time limit to officially finish the race.
When I realized I had to finish in seven hours, I knew I had to increase my endurance. So to prepare, I joined the Prevent Blindness Americas marathon team, TEAM 20/20. I received professional training, nutritional counseling, injury prevention tips and emotional support.
He began by doing a three-mile run/walk and slowly built up his strength over 31-weeks, logging 150 hours and 644 miles before the race. He and his son, Chuck, figured out a combination run/walk pattern that would get him to the finish line in time.
Throughout, my only goal was to finish, which I did with 28 minutes to spare, he bragged.
On race day, Chuck was his dads coach and they crossed the finish line hand in hand.
Angie was there to greet us. However, she finished in just over four hours, and had time to shower and eat breakfast before we showed up, Matsoff said with a laugh.
I posted my personal best, he continued, because I wont ever do it again. And Im taller today because of what I accomplished and because I cant bend my knees!
On a more serious note, he said, Randee and our friends were very supportive, both with their financial pledges to my charity and of my effort. One said he was proud not of my courage to finish, but of my courage to start. I told them I had their money, so I couldnt quit.
By Mardee Gruen