Wednesday, February 22, 2012
41 years ago today, my father landed the cover of Sports Illustrated (and back then it was not as easy as it is today!). Always focused on science and school, he never played sports in high school or college and only began running in his late 20s after being admitted/graduating the first African American to go to Duke University Medical School, integrating the University as a whole (pretty late for any athlete to begin competing in sport).
(35 years after my father made the cover, I was featured in Sports Illustrated Magazine when I played volleyball for UCLA. I became a 2 time NCAA All American for the Bruins. After UCLA, I was invited to play professional volleyball overseas in Puerto Rico and to train for the 2008 Olympic Games in Colorado Springs).
He decided to start running after watching a track meet on tv and joked with a friend that he could run faster than any of the competitors. He would train on hospital stairs late at night on his breaks while working in the Emergency room. Almost 70, to this day he still works out everyday before or after long shifts at the hospital....he often drags me along with him...
(My dad working out today. He always wears his hospital scrubs! I can count on one hand the amount of times I have ever seen my dad in real clothes)
World famous for wearing yellow swim trunks and suspenders when he ran, he ended up breaking the record for the 100yrd dash which he still and will forever hold as the race was soon after changed to the 100meter dash. He ran the race in 9 seconds flat. In the same year he won a U.S. Public Health Service award for co-authoring a paper entitled "The Inhibiting of DNA and RNA Synthesis by Dau-norubicin and Adriamycin in 1-1210 Mouse Leukemia".
(Sarasota Herald Tribune. Feb 5, 1971)
In the 1980s, he moved with my mom to rural South Africa where he spent 8years providing pro bono medical care to over 500,000 refugees and native people. My family's work continued on even after we moved back to the states. I co-founded a 501 (c) (3) international non profit organization, The Meriwether Foundation, about 6 years ago based on the selfless work my parents have contributed to the world. Please consider donating to The Meriwether Foundation! (www.MeriwetherFoundation.org)
(My father in Zimbabwe with Medical School students The Meriwether Foundation sponsors)