Fox Business Network anchor Liz Claman will be racing the Nautica New York City Triathlon next Sunday, Aug. 7, for the third year in a row. The difference this year is that she’s racing it for a cause. She’s raising funds for Building Homes for Heroes, a nonprofit that builds homes for severely disabled soldiers—many of whom are missing limbs—returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
“There are hundreds of these guys who come home and they don’t have a place they can live in to call home where they can function normally or comfortably,” Claman says. “So we try to build those homes. It’s one at a time; they’re highly custom.”
She first learned of the organization when reading an article about a home being built for Brendan Marrocco, the first U.S. solder to survive a quadruple amputation. Last September, Claman met someone from the organization while on the job. “I sunk my nails into her arm and I said, ‘Are you the one who’s building a home for Brendan Marrocco, whom I read about?’ And she said yes. And I said, ‘I’ll do anything. I’ll pour concrete, I’ll emcee events for you—whatever you need, I’ll do it.’”
When registration came around for this year’s New York City Triathlon, Claman wanted to do something more meaningful with her racing by raising money for Building Homes for Heroes. “I’m hoping for donations,” she says. “I don’t care if it’s a dollar or 15 cents from anybody. It means that maybe another nail or rivet can be bought to build these homes.”
Claman originally started racing the New York City Triathlon in 2009. Since Fox is a part sponsor, a company-wide email went out to create a team for the race. “All I saw was ‘Fox’ and ‘team,’ didn’t really pay attention,” she says. “I clicked on the ‘yes’ button.”
She had no idea what she’d signed up for. She had run the 2005 New York City Marathon, but would never call herself an athlete. When she discovered it was an Olympic-distance triathlon, “I went into a full-blown panic,” she says. “But I had too much pride to say, ‘No way, I can’t do this.’”
Training for the triathlon was no easy feat—she gets to work at 9 a.m., at which point her day is filled with meetings, phone calls and interviews before she’s on air from 3 to 5 p.m., she travels a lot during the year for business, all while raising two children under the age of 10 with her husband in Edgewater, N.J.
She called up Peter K (Peterkfitness.com), who had helped her train for the marathon: “I called him up and said, ‘You’ve gotta get me over this finish line. And by the way, I have a very challenging schedule and two little kids—good luck with that.’”
The only time she found she could train was at 5 a.m. every morning, so Peter K put together a whole training schedule for her. And when it came time to race, she loved the experience.
“To me, [racing] in New York City is such an emotional high and an amazing experience,” she says. “It’s really important for me to stress the words ‘Liz Claman’ and ‘athlete’ should never go together. … I was born with scoliosis, curvature of the spine, and was told I’d never be able to run long distances. And then I completed a marathon. So it’s all in your mind—your limitations are only what you allow them to be.”
After racing the triathlon the last two years, Claman’s outlook on life has changed.
“I feel that having accomplished it, and continuing to take this on, aside from the physical benefits of it, the mental benefits of completing a triathlon are so valuable, it makes you feel like you’re in this game of life and you’re winning it,” she says. “Just completing it and crossing that finish line translates to every other aspect of your life. … That makes you realize that there’s nothing you can’t do in life.”
Next weekend, Claman will be swimming, biking and running in New York City, all the while thinking about the soldiers she’s raising money for. “You don’t need to be for any war—I mean who’s “for” war?—it doesn’t matter. You’re for these guys who went there to fight and have come back with severe disabilities, and how can we not help them? It’s the least we can do,” Claman says. “When I think about running and swimming and biking, and oh I’m gonna hurt … I think, ‘What about those guys? That’s a really serious issue. This? What I’m doing? That’s nothing.’”
To donate to Building Homes for Heroes, click here.