Danny Heinsohn was diagnosed with brain cancer in 1999. He overcame the disease after a year of chemotherapy and three craniotomies. After being cleared of cancer, Heinsohn found a new passion in endurance sports. He has completed many races, including Ironman Canada, and is a coach for NSET. Heinsohn’s presence in the Northern Nevada active community has helped motivate many people achieve their goals.
Along with his great athletic accomplishments, he founded My Hometown Heroes–a scholarship fund for young cancer survivors. Heinsohn and MHH will be honoring their first recipient this Friday (May 13th) at the Reno Aces baseball game. She will be throwing the first pitch and receiving a check for $1,500 from My Hometown Heroes.
In our interview, Heinsohn talks more about his athletic accomplishments, his charity, and NSET.
ActiveReno: How did you become involved in endurance sports?
Danny Heinsohn: While undergoing chemo to treat my brain cancer in the fall of 1999, Team In Training (TNT) raised money on my behalf to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I became a team honoree and finished my last round of chemo in July 2000. In June 2001, Dan Brown, the owner of Bicycle Bananas was the TNT cycle coach at the time. He invited me to his shop to pick out a bike to ride in America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride which is a century ride around Lake Tahoe.
Without any prior training, I rode the perimeter of the lake which is 72 miles. It was the toughest physical feat I’ve ever accomplished, but nothing compared to enduring 3 craniotomies and a year of chemo. Dan got me around the lake and I was in tears of joy when I crossed the finish line as thousands of complete strangers cheered while we rode through the finish corridor. That moment was the beginning of my endurance sports career.
AR: What are some of your athletic accomplishments?
DH: Just recently, I PR’d with a 3 hour 23 minute marathon time for the Eugene Marathon on May 1. In 2009 I competed in the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon which was a blast.
However, the the most prolific and meaningful of all my athletic accomplishments came in 2010, when I trained to compete in Ironman Canada. Ironically 2010 was the decade milestone free from cancer and that’s how I chose to celebrate the 10 year milestone. I finished under an hour of my goal with a time of 11 hours 57 minutes 24 seconds, which was among the top third of over 50 countries, 45 US States, and the fastest time in the state of Nevada.
AR: You are involved with NSET… what exactly is NSET?
DH: NSET stands for Northern Sierra Endurance Training. We are a group of athletes that loves to train and compete in endurance sports. NSETs doors are open to anyone who wishes to become involved with an active and positive group of people no matter what your fitness level or goals are. We don’t charge any fees to be a part of our active community. For more info: NSET
AR: What was your motivation behind My Hometown Heroes?
DH: In 2009, I was looking for a way to celebrate 10 years of brain cancer remission in 2010. I first registered to compete in Ironman Canada. A couple months later I wanted to add something with staying power and formed a board to start a scholarship fund for young cancer survivors. The name My Hometown Heroes was inspired by the friends and family who supported me as I endured treatment. They were my heroes!
AR: What are your goals and where do you want to see My Hometown Heroes in the future?
DH: The mission of MHH is to provide financial aid for young adult cancer survivors between the ages of 17 and 35, who are pursuing a college education. These funds will help provide financial assistance for books, tuition, ongoing medications, and doctor visits.
I’d like to see MHH thrive and become a resource that any young adult cancer survivor can turn to. After battling cancer, chemotherapy, and paying medical bills, the last thing anyone should have to worry about is paying for a college education and supporting their family.
If you would like to make donation to support the cause, please visit My Hometown Heroes