Completing a marathon or triathlon can be a challenge under the best circumstances.
Jose Zambrano chooses to tackle these physical challenges while wearing full firefighter gear, all to raise funds and awareness for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“It’s about drawing attention to a cause, and not to me,” said Zambrano, who has a friend who lost a daughter to pediatric cancer. “I’m not trying to prove anything.”
Zambrano, a firefighter from El Segundo, California, nicknamed Fireman Joe, has already completed three marathons and one triathlon as a St. Jude Hero this year. He plans to complete five more events before 2016 is over; all while wearing 40 pounds of firefighter gear, including a helmet featuring the St. Jude logo. So far he has raised $1,600 for St. Jude.
One of the races on Zambrano’s list of planned events is the marathon during the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend on December 3.
“I want to do the (Memphis) marathon, because I want to visit the hospital,” he said. “I want to put more meaning behind running — to put a picture behind what I do.”
Zambrano said he puts his body through grueling physical strain in support of St. Jude because of the support St. Jude gives to families. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.
“Look at all the amazing things the hospital is doing for the children and the parents. The parents don’t have to pay anything. It’s wonderful,” he said.
“All I ask God is to give me the strength in my heart, my soul and my body to keep doing this for St. Jude, and for the children.”
For Zambrano, though, even that might not be enough.
“I wish I could do more,” he said. “I want to inspire other people who want to help children, and help the hospital.”