HFA Hero: Max Spritzer
Max Spritzer ~ Facebook post, February 6, 2012…
“I’m a bit heated right now. I called my doctor’s office earlier to schedule an appointment for the next day or two because my equilibrium is a bit off… to the point where I’m bumping into things. The lady said Thursday was the earliest. I thought about it for a bit and called her back to ask if any PA’s or other doctors were available earlier. She called me back and told me they were completely booked and that Friday is the earlier she could get me in…”
And THIS is the beginning of the story of “TEAM SPRITZER”…
Max Spritzer ~ Facebook post, TODAY ~ February 6, 2018…
Reflecting… “And so it began. My first Multiple Sclerosis flare up…”
Max Spritzer, of the Meco Volunteer Fire Department in Upstate New York decided to tackle Run 4 The Hills for First Responders “Duty Gear Challenge” in 2017. Spritzer had something to prove, if only to himself…
Max Spritzer felt his call to action years ago when a car full of teenagers flipped and landed in the driveway of his family’s home. Max felt helpless at the time; he could only dial 911 and wait for the First Responders to arrive. Realizing that service was a way of life in the Meco area that often spanned generations of families, Max decided he wanted in, and never looked back. Max joined the Meco Volunteer Fire Department in 2007. His company responds to 80+ calls a year that include firefighting, motor vehicle accidents, mutual aide, and various other emergencies.
Max’s wife, opens in a new windowSarah, has been an avid runner most of her life. She and Max were physically active together from the start, running and workout partners since meeting in 2009. Together they share a love of all things baseball; Sarah realized something was SERIOUSLY wrong one evening when Max not only began having trouble with balance and numbness on the treadmill, but later couldn’t remember the number of the New York Yankees channel on their TV. The frightening illness progressed quickly. Max was eventually admitted to an inpatient rehabilitation facility for OT and PT, as well as speech therapy to regain cognitive function. Max could not walk, perform simple tasks like getting dressed and feeding himself, and lost all use of his left side. Sarah, employed in the medical imaging field, began doing her own research when Max was told he likely had a brain tumor and needed a brain biopsy. A fierce advocate for Max, some parts of the initial diagnosis didn’t add up to Sarah. Multiple Sclerosis is difficult to pinpoint, but all of the symptoms plaguing Max in the next months pointed to MS; Spritzer finally got that diagnosis in July of 2012. Only thirty years old, Max, and Sarah twenty-five, began the long and painful journey to recovery. Those were dark times for Spritzer, in a supportive leg brace for months and using a cane to re-learn how to walk and function, he often wondered, “Why me?”
Fast forward, Spritzer RECOVERS… Max and Sarah signed up for Run 4 The Hills in 2016. They were impressed with the challenge of the cranky hills of Sharon Springs, as well as the rush of the cheering bystanders and volunteers. Sarah pushed daughter Talia in a running stroller, and urged Max to go ahead. He greeted Sarah and Talia at the finish line, and caught a glimpse of two firemen from the Sharon Springs department heading up the rear in full duty gear. A light bulb moment; Spritzer knew he would follow that lead on May 6, 2017, and join the ranks of the Duty Gear Challenge. A goal was set.
On the morning of May 6, 2017, Max Spritzer pulled on his duty gear, and stood with Sarah and Talia at the starting line for Run 4 The Hills, at The American Hotel in Sharon Springs. Nervous and excited, the Spritzers set off to do what once seemed impossible. They set out to conquer the hills of Sharon Springs together, one running with the challenge of stroller and toddler, another with 50+ extra pounds of duty gear. This time, Sarah and Talia went ahead, and waited for Max to cross the finish line with family and friends. He did Sweaty, blistered, exhausted… AND PROUD. Max’s advice to anyone looking at the Duty Gear Challenge this year? “DO IT. A few nasty blisters didn’t hold me back. A MS diagnosis didn’t hold me back. JUST DO IT”. Fact? That’s how this writer sees Max approach life. “Always have each other’s back, everyone goes home safe at the end of the day” is a motto Spritzer lives by.
The Spritzers were married in 2013 in the Grandstand Theatre, at the Baseball Hall of Fame. Max, Sarah, and Talia will welcome baby number two the first week or so of May, 2018 ~ ironically, coinciding with the 5th Annual Run 4 The Hills for First Responders! Spritzer works for the Stewarts organization in the marketing department, and helps direct contributions to not-for-profit area organizations; a proud sponsor of the Sharon Springs event.
Hero Fund America, and Run 4 The Hills is proud of Max Spritzer’s phenomenal comeback and accomplishments; we are humbled and delighted he and Sarah have become important members of our Run 4 The Hills for First Responders and Duty Gear Challenge team!
Being founded and grounded in service to emergency responders is central to the purpose of Hero Fund America. The HFA Fund provides grants which benefit the education, training, and certification programs for first responders.