LAKELAND, Fla. — There is a Lakeland grandfather who is no stranger to finishing first when it comes to running races, but he didn’t realize how important the sport was to him until he saw how quickly it could all be taken away.
Alan Grofe, 76, may be a grandfather, but he feels like a little kid every time he laces up his sneakers. Running is one of his favorite hobbies, but it wasn’t always that way.
“I started to run when all of a sudden this basketball gut showed up one day when I was 45,” said Grofe.
It didn’t take long before Alan was competing in 10 to 15 5Ks a year, winning his age group several times. Then in 2016 he came across a challenge that not only threatened to end his running days, but his entire life.
“Cancer, prostate cancer, and I was like, ‘oh darn, now what’ and I was stunned because the options are pretty scary,” said Grofe.
He turned to a new technology called CyberKnife radiation treatment.
“There were 257 beams, laying on a table, all robotic, five days in a row,” said Grofe
Following the treatment, Alan wasted no time hitting the pavement, one of his biggest goals was to cross that finish line once again.
“It just felt like a million dollars to me to get out there and race and I won too so I was like, ‘yes, I still got it,’” said Grofe.
You can even argue, Alan’s gotten faster with age. Last month he finished 3rd in his age group at the Florida Senior Games, which means he’s now qualified to compete in the nationals later this year.
It’s obvious, Alan’s gotten used to overcoming the odds.
“Now it’s cancer-free five years, no side effects,” said Grofe.
He hopes to inspire others, no matter what you are going through, stick to what makes you happy and never give up.
“I wanted to extend my life as healthy and as long as I could, I figure I’m probably good into my 90s right now,” said Grofe.