B.Strong70.3 – Bryce Heckendorf

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I (Joe Krantz) met Bryce’s mom (Jenna Kuenster) back in high school, Jenna from River Ridge and I went to Lancaster. She was dating one of my best friends and I was dating one of her best friends. Back when life was simple! Little did we know that years later our paths would cross again in a totally different way. The day I heard about Bryce’s diagnoses I was 20 feet up a tree in a stand hunting for deer. I immediately started crying, climbed down and left. Having my own child (1 at that time), I hurt so badly knowing how much Jenna must be hurting. I followed the Caring Bridge page dedicated to Bryce and when they posted about a benefit I told them I would help in anyway I could. That is where our paths crossed again.

I saw Jenna holding Bryce and it was bitter sweet. He was as handsome in person as he was when he was born. I remembered seeing pictures on Facebook when he was born and thinking…no surprise he’s cute, his mom was always a “looker.” The benefit went exceptionally well with lots of money raised for the family. Before I left I gave Jenna a hug and got to hold Bryce’s hand. I wished her the best and I headed for my truck. I cried the whole way home and when I came through the doors my son welcomed me at the door and my new born daughter was making baby noises from the living room. I was overwhelmed with emotions from the whole evening.

I was inspired by Bryce and all of his family members to do something. I just didn’t know what yet? I talked to my wife about doing the IM 70.3 in racine that past summer and said “why not do it for Bryce?” And that is when it all began for me. I talked to Jenna and she supported my decision and was very thankful. I told her I wanted to come see Bryce again and get a picture with him. Unfortunately God had different plans. Myself and my family were sick a lot and we couldn’t visit him while we were sick and in that time Bryce’s conditioned had worsened and he passed. The celebration of life for the little guy was very nice. Aunt Jamie had a great speech, Jenna and Kyle spoke (which I admire their courage a lot) and they released balloons outside. I watched the balloons go off into the “Blue Sky” for miles. I hugged Kyle and Jenna and while driving home I said to myself “I will finish this race if I have to crawl.”

I shared my story to Facebook and Missy contacted me about joining. I told her that would be great! We are now in the early stages of this blog, training, promoting Bryce’s life, and raising awareness about Krabbe disease. Missy is the brains behind most of this and I’ll help where I can. If this post works it will be nothing short of amazing from my part as I hardly know what a “blog” is!

I’m currently having a rough time in my training as I have a bum left foot. I have seen 5 different specialists. I feel as if we have things under control now, but not healed. I may need surgery and if that happens it will clearly back things up. I’m optimistic that if I do I can heal quickly and ease into running!? At this point I feel like a race horse being held back and if you ask my wife I’m sure she’ll agree! …I’m ready to run! And most importantly I’m ready to do this for Bryce!