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Anello still competing in life after football

Jun 25, 2012, 2:25 PM EDT

Mike Anello ND

It’s been a few seasons since we’ve seen the blur with a No. 37 sprinting down the field in kick coverage. But since Mike Anello graduated from Notre Dame and ended a football career that started as a walk-on and ended garnering two Academic All-American honors for his special teams play, Anello hasn’t stopped competing.

After a fifth year at Notre Dame in 2009, Anello has moved on to corporate America, working as an associate for General Catalyst, a venture capital and private equity firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts. But Anello’s competitive spirit, so readily on display on Saturdays for the Fighting Irish, has continued. Anello has stuck with the St. Baldrick’s foundation, a cause that’s seen many Irish football players shave their heads in support of the battle against childhood cancer.

Anello was kind enough to check in a few nights ago, just two weeks after finishing the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, a 1.5-mile swim, 18 mile bike, and eight-mile run through some of the most challenging terrain of any triathlon. Anello managed to beat his three hour goal time by two minutes, all while individually raising over $14,000 for the St. Baldrick’s foundation. The email he sent to those that contributed was an especially heartfelt one, and in this offseason before the football cranks up, I thought it was worth sharing:

I wanted to send a brief update (promise I’ll keep this as short as possible) to everyone who helped me raise money for both my St. Baldrick’s event as well as the Escape from Alcatraz race I did as part of the St. Baldrick’s team.  I ended up raising over $14,000 for this tremendous cause, and the two events combined totaled close to $60,000.

 The Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon was a couple weeks ago on June 10th.  It was also my first time in San Francisco.  I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.  I wasn’t able to train the way I hoped to, but was still able to beat my goal of 3 hours, finishing at 2:58.  Here’s a link to some pictures as well as a video of my finish ( not everyone starts at once, so you’ll see a slight difference in my actual time versus what I cross at).  This was by far the hardest course I’ve ever raced.  Everyone from the pros on down had very slow average bike and run times compared to a typical courses (the winner finished with a 23.5 mph average for the 18 mile ride, he’d typically do this in 26+ mph).

 The main reason I wanted to share this email was because of two moving experiences.  You’ll see everyone jumping off the Ferry in one of the pictures on the link below.  Due to the rough terrain around Alcatraz, they take us just off shore of the island and everyone jumps off the Ferry.  Over 2200 individuals empty off the boat in under 6 minutes.

 I was near the front of the group before we jumped off the boat (don’t worry as soon as we actually started swimming I assumed my position holding up the rear…).  After the National Anthem played, I looked down and saw two men pick up a 60 year old man and carry him to the edge.  This man was a parapalegic, and he wouldn’t let this disability stop him from Escaping Alcatraz.  I got choked up (and am as I write this note) as I watched this all unfold.  I’m a  firm believer that anyone can achieve whatever goal they set for themselves, large or small, if they commit 110%.  Never listen to the naysayers (there might be a handful of individuals who ever thought I could make the ND team, let alone make a difference and most of those people’s last name was Anello).  Seeing this only solidified that thought for me.  I wish you all could have seen this.

 The second experience I had came during the run.  As I mentioned, I was a bit underprepared for how hard this race would be.  Unfortunately, this caused my quads to start to cramp at about mile marker 3 of the 8 mile run (I’m sure everyone has heard their parents tell them they walked up hill both ways in the snow, but this race I swear to you was uphill both ways in sand…).  I told myself there was no way I could stop, because if I did, my quads might completely go.

 For the next 5 miles I focused on one thing, and one thing only, Xavier Murphy.  As many of you may recall, I devoted this year to a good friend, Xavier, who was a football manager for the team at ND.  He never had anything other than a smile from ear to ear.  He found out this past Fall that he had leukemia, and within a month had lost his battle.  Without Xavier’s help, I know there’s no chance I would have made my goal.

 I can’t thank you all enough.  Many of you have been contributing to my St. Baldrick’s events for four years.  Thank you for all your generosity.

It’s tough not to get the emotions stirring after reading Anello’s testimonial, especially his words about former Irish trainer Xavier Murphy. He sends a great message worth sharing as he continues to support a great foundation like St. Baldrick’s.

While the race is complete, the fight isn’t over, and if you’re interested in following along with Anello’s pledge goals, or donating money, you can go to check out Anello’s participant page.

  1. yaketyyacc - Jun 25, 2012 at 4:21 PM

    over the east portal to Sacred Heart Basilica are the words: God Country Notre Dame. Anello, you cover all three. you are right keith, it is hard not to becme emotional. thanks for an inspiring article about an inspiring man,

  2. gtizzo - Jun 25, 2012 at 4:44 PM

    Very nice Keith,

    This could be something we see again during halftime this season. When they talk about the good things ND does around the world. I was actually wondering not all that long ago what happened to Mike Anello. Great story and a great message shows that the “fighting Irish” isn’t just about football. The “fighting Irish” are also willing to take on cancer. Keep up the good work Mike!

  3. smurphdoggy29 - Jun 25, 2012 at 9:44 PM

    People wonder WHY we root for Notre Dame, Mike Anello and all like him are exactly why many of us do. I hope I speak for the vast majority when I say we don’t “just” root for the Football Squad, we support and cheer on all of the University of Notre Dame Fightin Irish !!

    They are the Fightin Irish, what will you fight for ?

    Mike Anello and all of your ilk I salute you ! God Bless America and God Bless Notre Dame !!

    GO Irish !!

  4. seamus0317 - Jun 26, 2012 at 9:24 AM

    The reason I love college football and loathe pro football is young men like Mike Anello! It’s not “look at me I made a tackle and we’re getting beat by 30!” Its about doing the right thing when no one is looking!

  5. nudeman - Jun 26, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    This is a nice story about a good guy who was one of ND’s all time overachievers

    Having said that, there is an enormous amount going in in CFB today, and while the Mike Anello tale is heartwarming …. come on. This story, which is largely a cut & paste of an email he wrote must have taken about 5 min to write. Before that, we got Louis Nix interviewing BK a week ago.

    What about the demise of the BCS? The apparent agreement to give us a playoff? Rumblings about ND ultimately being forced to join a conference?

    Closer to home:
    What is Zaire doing this summer to improve on a 43% completion rate last yr?
    What is the latest on Rees and Calabrese?
    How about the Rivals 5 Star Challenge where Jaylon Smith was?
    How about some info from the not-so-voluntary workouts?
    Who’s getting most of the QB snaps?
    WR development, recruiting news on guys like Treadwell, Anzalone and Muhammad?

    As you have said to me before, “you are capable of better”.
    And none of this is to be interpreted as a knock on Anello.

    • bkdylan - Jun 26, 2012 at 11:46 AM

      wow. nudeman….just wow!

      • nudeman - Jun 26, 2012 at 12:23 PM

        Yep, knew I’d get pounded for this one
        That’s life

        Go ahead. Pound away

    • fentocamarillo - Jun 26, 2012 at 12:24 PM

      Nude jerk

      You must be kidding me. I always wondered your tie to the Irish, now I know. You have none. Even subway alumni treat the University with the utmost respect and admiration. You show neither. I normally sit by, silently reading your incessant rant over a bunch of teenagers, shake my head at your obsession over Tommy Rees and wonder exactly how bitter you must truly be. Again, now I know. There are blogs out there that will accept, and perhaps even welcome, your ongoing written diarrhea. May I suggest you take it there with the utmost haste.

      Go Irish! God bless Mike Anello.

      • nudeman - Jun 26, 2012 at 1:07 PM

        fento, I went out of my way to say how admirable Mike Anello is. Twice.

        Asked asking for more articles on some more interesting topics
        There’s been a paucity of such here lately, but there’s actually A LOT going on in the ND football world.
        Recruiting, practices, BCS demise. All relevant topics that I’d like to see Keith’s take on.
        Sorry: That’s a BAD thing? A BAD request?

        And nowhere did I disrespect the University. You’re illiterate if you conclude that.
        You are overly uptight and sanctimonious and take everything that’s posted too seriously
        We’re talking college football; we’re not talking about the friggin’ Dead Sea Scrolls

    • irishraj - Jun 26, 2012 at 2:02 PM

      Nude… Ive read your comments in the past and just ignored them because it seems like your one of those guys who gets his kicks from antagonizing others. Today, I felt compelled to register just to address your classless comment. Just because you say one nice thing about Anello doesnt mean your comments were not disrespectful. Im thankful as many others are that Keith “cut & pasted” Anellos email. That is where the information is and there isnt much to add. We all want as much information as we can get on Notre Dame Football. Critisizing Keith in the comments regarding Mike Anellos article is not the place to do it. Under each article, their is a little envelope that reads “email”. How about emailing Keith privately and asking him to write articles regarding those topics you would like to see. Or join a pay site that has recruiting articles each day such as Irish Sports Daily. You can get articles, commentary, recruting video, breakdowns, etc. I know you enjoy making comments and then welcoming the bashing. An opinion that differs is one thing, but being disrespectful is another. Typically I dont feed the trolls, but today I had to call you out.

  6. nudeman - Jun 26, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    “today I had to call you out”. Thanks; I feel so cleansed now.

    You and your boy fento who think I’m being disrespectful to ND here are adding 2+2 and getting 19
    Just guessing, are you also one of those who thinks we never landed on the Moon?
    That there was a 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th gunman on the Grassy Knoll?

    Grow up and stop taking yourself and this board so seriously

    All I asked for was more articles about stuff that is relevant now
    Sorry if you feel your tootsies were stepped on

    • irishraj - Jun 26, 2012 at 4:37 PM

      Wow… Think I just wet myself laughing. Nudeman just told me to grow up. That’s rich. Go back and read your history of posts. Your nothing more than a man behaving childish resulting in name calling. Usually those who behave as you do on the Internet chat rooms acting tough and ignorant are nothing more than insecure people with a desire to be respected. I’m guessing you fall into that category. I’ll log off now, go back to ignoring you. Hopefully I don’t see you on any of the pay sites.

      Keith… Keep up the good work. Enjoy your articles.

      • nudeman - Jun 26, 2012 at 5:22 PM

        I guess you win because you’ve told me off and walked away
        What? Is there a new Hannah Montana on?

  7. brazilianirish - Jun 27, 2012 at 5:55 AM

    Thanks, Keith, for a very inspiring article. Yes, it was emotional. It is a type of writing that makes us better. Part of the reason why we keep reading and reading your posts… By the way: that story reflects what Notre Dame really is.

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