This is the premiere issue of the Long Island Journal. Stay tunes as we publish our new website! Check back January 25th, 2021
John: I am here as the publisher for both Model Citizens Magazine and the Long Island Journal with Scott Burman. Scott, you have been nominated by Model Citizen for everything that you do for philanthropy and the Long Island community. However, before we get there, I see that you are a competitive endurance athlete for over 20 years. How do you get into competitive endurance sports, and what do you focus on?
Scott: I was a swimmer starting from a young age. I swam through high school and college although I was not a particularly great swimmer. However, I trained high-volume which means my body got accustomed to a high-level training mode. I tried my first triathlon, just as a fitness goal, when I was still in college. It was a local triathlon that runs still to this day every Father’s Day called the Gold Coast Triathlon and is held in Port Washington. I must admit that I barely finished that first race.
John: Well, that is all that counts right?
Scott: Yes, I did it! Absolutely.
John: How long how long was that one?
Scott: It was a sprint race and I’ll just add this as an anecdote, I went back to that race and finished second overall. That was many years later but was my crowning achievement to go from a guy who could barely finish, to a guy who came close to winning the whole race.
John: My father went from smoking five packs of cigarettes a day to running 100-mile races in the desert and 50-mile races in zero degrees. So, if he could pull that off, I think anyone can do just about anything.
Scott: That’s very impressive! That is really what drove me for all these years, the mental aspect more than the physical. I got more into it over about 10 years and then progressed to a half Iron Man. At that point I realized that I was spending a lot of time training, was really into it and thought it may be time to get a coach and a team to see how far I could take this. My head was really in it, so I actually met a local guy named Jose Lopez. Jose became my very good friend and mentor and trained me from an eight-minute run to a sub-six runner in six months.
John: I am here today with Jesse Giordano who has been nominated as a Model Citizen for the February issue of Model Citizens Magazine. Jesse is a philanthropist and also a Financial Advisor and Principal with Opal Wealth Advisors in Jericho, New York. Jesse, I’ve just learned that you’re a cancer survivor and I’m wondering if you can share your story with us.
Jesse: Sure, I was seven years old, just before my eighth birthday, and I was playing Little League baseball. I was at the plate and my mom was sitting in the stands watching me and from her seat, I guess it is a parent’s instinct, noticed something on my neck and it worried her. When I came off the field, she looked at my neck and asked what the lump was. She seemed a little panicked. I remember that she asked me if it hurt and if I hurt myself. My dad came to look as well and the next thing I knew I was in my pediatrician’s office.
John: I am sure it was surreal.
Jesse: They ran several tests and ultimately confirmed that I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I had to do chemotherapy for about eight months. The chemotherapy was definitely the hardest part.
John: I watched my father’s treatments, and the chemotherapy he went through was the worst thing I ever witnessed in my life. Cancer just devastated him.
Jesse: My first chemotherapy treatment was on my mom’s 33rd birthday. My parents are the same age, so they were 33 at the time. It was a difficult eight months. I can still remember the burning, vomiting, and nausea. It went on for several months and fortunately once the treatment was over, I never had an issue ever again. It certainly left a mark on my childhood. I think if there is any remarkable or positive outcome from my illness, and this is difficult to imagine and I hesitate to say this because it may sound insensitive to those who are going through chemotherapy today, but I am grateful that I went through it because it gave me an appreciation of my own vulnerabilities. Not in the sense of having something to be afraid of, but I was most moved by and can remember clearly, even though I was only seven or eight, the care from nurses and doctors, my family, and the students in my school.
John: Is that what motivated you to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Man of the Year competition?