New York, NY— Hello, fellow Canaries supporters! Saturday's 3-2 road loss to Aston Villa was a tough one.
For the second consecutive week, the Canaries were faced with a two-goal deficit and demonstrated that they're a team that refuses to quit. While a win would have been pleasant, this loss was definitely memorable.
Not because of the team's effort or the second goal that should have been never given up or the fact I enjoyed watching the match at the Football Factory at Legends with the NY Canaries and the Aston Villa-supporting New York Villans.
It was because I had the privilege of meeting Mike Shattock, who was in town to run the New York City Marathon. Recently, Mike started following me on Twitter, and in return I've started following him. One of the perks of following a club like Norwich City has been the friendships I've made with the Canaries supporters who live in New York or are here for a holiday.
Prior to meeting Mike last Saturday, I went to his site on his Twitter account. It was there I learned about the Yellow Beetle Challenge and his motivation.
On January 2, 2010, Mike's wife Samantha (Sam) suffered a cardiac arrest at the age of 41. As a result, she has been left with serious brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen and has been cared for at the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability in Putney, London.
The story behind the name Yellow Beetle Challenge is that Sam was known for driving a yellow Volkswagen Beetle around town.
As stated in the website, "The Yellow Beetle Challenge is to complete three BIG events in three continents within a twelve month period, and hopefully reach my fundraising target of raising £10,000 for the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability."
These three challenges consist of the London-to-Paris cycle ride, which he completed in April; the New York Marathon; and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in March 2012.
Engaging in this series of challenges is Mike's way of coping with his family's situation. Along with being a husband, he and Sam are the parents of two teenage boys aged 15 and 13.
On the day before the marathon, I met Mike at the Football Factory before the Norwich and Aston Villa match. To be honest, I didn't add two and two together initially, but when he told me his name, it all came back to me. I didn't know how to address it, so I told simply told assured Mike that I've seen his site and think what he is doing is inspirational.
He joined us and the rest of the NY Canaries members as we unfortunately watched Norwich fall in a hard-fought match to Aston Villa. I had a fantastic time chatting with Mike. Some of us had ran the marathon in the past, so we tried our best to give him some pointers.
During our conversation, I promised I would write about meeting him and inform others how they can help. Just before he left, Mike asked me if I had a NCFC jersey. I told him no, and he literally gave me his shirt off his back as he handed me his 1959 retro NCFC home kit.
Without a shadow of a doubt, this is the best kit I've ever received. Bottom line is that there's a sentimental value to it. Whenever I'm asked about it, I have a story that goes with the story. More importantly, I can make others aware of the Yellow Beetle Challenge and how people can become involved in an inspirational cause.
Mike did finish the NYC Marathon with the time of 5 hours, 12 minutes and 46 seconds. In anticipation of heading out to England in 2012, I intend to return the favor to Mike when I head over to Carrow Road for a match.
Cesar Diaz is a freelance soccer writer for several online publications. If there's a soccer topic you believe needs to be written about, please feel free to contact him. Easily accessible, you may contact him at CoveringSoccer@gmail.com and @CoveringSoccer.