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New Plymouth Man Earns Tony Jackson Scholarship

26 August 2019

For immediate release from Nutri-Grain IRONMAN New Zealand

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Dinnie Moeahu and his whānau needed some good news after a year of heartache, and while it in no way makes up for those trying times, news that Donnie will compete in Nutri-Grain IRONMAN New Zealand as a Tony Jackson Scholar has provided some light at the end of what has been a dark tunnel.

Moeahu will head back to Taupo for a second shot at completing IRONMAN in March next year with assistance from the Tony Jackson Scholarship, and with it the chance to refocus after a year in which his wife Sonya saw close family members pass away.

Dinnie freely admits at becoming quite emotional when IRONMAN Regional Director Chris Randle rang with the news.

“I was in absolute shock. There was a mixture of disbelief and humble gratitude, my hands were shaking, and a few tears were shed. I’m still lost for words and it will take me a little while for it to sink in.”

Nominated by good friend and 2017 Tony Jackson Scholar Daniel Frost, Dinnie speaks of a second chance after coming up short at Taupo in March this year.
“This is unfinished business! Two and a half years ago I embarked on a journey of impossibility – and it was all for charity. I was approached by a friend who had seen all the community advocacy work I’d done and asked if I wanted to be an Ambassador for their local children’s charity ‘Little Fighters Trust’.

“I asked them what their biggest dream was, and the trust wanted to raise $80,000 to sponsor a room at Ronald McDonald House in Auckland to help more families in need.

“I accepted that challenge and to bring about awareness for the cause, I said I will do something that I thought was impossible, that was an IRONMAN. I remember on January 1st, 2017 weighing 140kg, I got on a bike for the first time in 30 years, I got in the pool for the first time in 20 years and began running again.

“We raised the $80,000 and fulfilled a lifelong dream for the Trust however, on race day I fell short of the transition from bike to run by about 10-15 minutes and was the last person on the bike removed from the course. I’m ready to remedy that for the 2020 IRONMAN.”

Along the way Dinnie has shared his story with the community, speaking to numerous organisations to help inspire others to make a difference in their lives, regardless of their challenges and goals. Out of that journey came his Facebook page ‘Change is Coming’, a tool Donnie has used to engage with others.
“Change is Coming started off as an accountability tool for me personally. A blog where I could track my day to day progress and personal thoughts regarding my journey. It became a vehicle that would inspire a community and beyond to create positive changes in their lives through being inspired by what I tried to achieve in mine.

Dinnie’s own realization that he needed to change was motivated by just how close to death he was prior to his first IRONMAN adventure.

“Before starting my Charity for IRONMAN journey, I was overweight, overworked and in a real bad state and started a downward spiral in life. I suffered a body infection which lasted nine months, I was almost hospitalized twice with blood poisoning and was lanced open nine times to release the infected area.

“I knew I needed to change my life, or I’ll be digging myself an early grave. I wanted to be around longer for my two boys, and they became my driving force, my purpose, my ‘WHY’ to get my life back in order.”

What followed though compounded Donnie’s own personal health challenges and has tested the family to the limits.

“My wife Sonya’s best friend and father got diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, two weeks after her father’s diagnosis, Sonya had a massive breakdown and was diagnosed with depression.

“Seven months after her father’s diagnosis, he passed away in November 2018. A month later (three days before Christmas) Sonya’s grandmother passed away. Four months later Sonya’s uncle passed away, and more recently, about four weeks ago, my wife Sonya lost her mum after an eight-week battle with brain and lung cancer.”

This all happened during Dinnie’s training, fundraising, speaking engagements, charity advocacy, while working, before the race and long after the race finished, pushing his IRONMAN goals into the background at times and has challenged the family in every way possible.

“We’ve had incredible support from friends and family, frankly too many to single out. And even though we’ve experienced tremendous grief, our outlook on life is one filled with hope and gratitude which has helped us continue to live our lives in honour of our loved ones we’ve lost.
“I will be doing this 2020 New Zealand IRONMAN in honour of them!

“The community of Taranaki has been a massive source of help. It took a community to raise the money for the Little Fighters Trust.

“I want to thank my brother Daniel Frost for nominating me for the Tony Jackson Scholarship. Our stories are similar, and he’s inspired me and now our bond is absolute through this amazing experience.

“I want to thank my Taranaki Toa whānau for all the support and constant inspiration during my trainings and events, they are just an incredible whānau to be associated with.

“Finally, to my whānau, my wife Sonya and our two boys Christian and Kaia, thank you for your unwavering support throughout this whole journey.”

Dinnie is keen to send a message from his own journey to those watching.

“My message is simple - live your life on your terms and create the change you want to see in the world. What I’ve realised is that life is to short, so with the life I have, what imprint do I want to leave.

“To me, that’s what epitomizes Tony Jackson and his life. I’m honoured, humbled and grateful to be a recipient.”

For more, contact:
Dinnie Moeahu

What is the Tony Jackson Scholarship?
The annual scholarship offers a deserving athlete an IRONMAN New Zealand event package (including entry), to enable them to participant in IRONMAN New Zealand.
The scholarship is set up to support athletes that without this support may not be able to participate in the IRONMAN New Zealand event.

What does the 2020 scholarship include?

Entry into 2020 Nutri-Grain IRONMAN New Zealand
Two nights’ accommodation in Taupo prior to the event for training
VIP tickets for 2 to official event week functions
A Boost Coaching Package - or coaching package from your local region
A Performance Bicycle Tuning Bike Fit
12-month Fitter Coffee Club membership
Kellogg’s Tri Suit
$1500 financial contribution towards training, gear, nutrition etc (Kellogg’s)

Who was Tony Jackson?
Tony competed in New Zealand’s first IRONMAN event in 1985 at the age of 45. Tony continued to compete in every IRONMAN New Zealand event for 28 years until 2013. Tony was the epitome of the IRONMAN spirit; a man who quietly managed to mentor, encourage, guide, instruct, coach and enthuse every day, ordinary people into doing things they had thought impossible to achieve.
Tony’s mantra to fellow athletes was, “Nothing is impossible…to the willing mind.” To many, competing in any triathlon seemed a formidably impossible thing to achieve. Competing in an IRONMAN seemed well beyond comprehension. Those with the willing minds were guided by Tony and managed to achieve what they had once thought impossible. Scores of athletes benefited from Tony’s quiet and wise coaching.
By his own admission Tony was never a world beater – but the records do show he could turn out some good times. He qualified for Kona many times, but only went to three – podium placing in 1988 in 11 hours 35 mins.
At Christmas 2007, Tony was diagnosed with a brain tumour. He was given the life expectancy of 12 weeks.
10 weeks later, with the thought of only having about two more weeks to live - and in the middle of radiotherapy and chemotherapy Tony started and finished his, and New Zealand’s 24th IRONMAN.
For the next five years – despite more brain surgery operations, plastic surgery and a stroke, Tony started and completed five more IRONMAN New Zealand events. Each year he coached and mentored scores of fellow athletes to achieve their goals yet having to undergo major difficulties in his own health and training.
Tony passed away in March 2013.
This scholarship is IRONMAN New Zealand’s way of continuing Tony’s belief, to each person out there - that, like everything in life, including IRONMAN - ‘Nothing is impossible…to the willing mind’.

© Scoop Media

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