After learning about Jim Donnelly at a recent event we were impressed with his story. We believe he is an inspiration and worthy “In the Spotlight” candidate.
Growing up in Western Pennsylvania, Jim has always had a strong passion for sports. From wrestling and tennis as a child. In high-school he played football, basketball, and baseball. In college he participated in rugby at Clarion University.
He has always been driven to compete and excel in athletics as far back as he can remember. It was in his blood as child and continues to be part of his life as an adult.
After college, Jim settled down, got married and started a family. Even after many competitions Jim still had an urge to compete. He participated in boxing as an amateur. However shortly after getting started, a debilitating shoulder injury which required surgery ended his ability to compete. He would need to find another sport to satisfy his desire to test his limits athletically.
At the young age of 29, Jim was diagnosed with a rare genetic heart issue called Brugada Syndrome. In August 2008, Jim needed surgery and had a pacemaker/defibrillator implanted in his chest to smooth out his irregular heartbeat. For most individuals this would most likely mark the end of their sports career. But for Jim it was just the beginning. He refused to allow this diagnosis to hinder his competitive nature and his love for sports. He was determined to follow his heart and continue to pursue his urge to compete.
Less than two years following the procedure Jim started running. His first of many races to follow was the Pittsburgh Half Marathon in May of 2010. After that first race, Jim’s thirst for competition intensified and he knew he had to continue.
His athletic passion progressed, adding swimming and biking to his regime. Jim completed his first Olympic distance triathlon in the City of Pittsburgh. He quickly fell in the love with the sport and with the help of his coach Matt Mauclair of Trust the Plan Coaching, Jim now travels around the world competing in various triathlons.
Some of his more notable races include:
- Ironman 70.3 San Juan, Puerto Rico
- Ironman 70.3 Florida
- Ironman 140.6 Cozumel, Mexico
- Ironman 70.3 Zell Am See/Kaprun, Austria
His most memorable and favorite race so far was the “Escape from Alcatraz” Triathlon in San Francisco, California in June of 2015.
The list will undoubtedly continue to grow with this year’s main focus on the Ironman 140.6 Mont Tremblant, Canada in August of 2016.
Jim started competing in triathlons due to his love of sports and competition. However, it has quickly progressed into an act of proving to himself and his children that anything is possible.
Just a few short years ago the diagnosis from the doctors could have restricted him from following his passion, but instead he chose to live by the mentality “live for the now”.
“We only have one life, so we have to make the most of what we’ve got”, says Jim.
This is the type of message Jim wants to relay to his children: Don’t let anything stop you from achieving your dreams…NEVER GIVE UP!