It was June 2008 and Colehower was in the biking leg of the race, in between the swim and run, when he crashed and hurt his shoulder.
During a MRI three weeks later, Colehower, Buckhead resident and senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Manhattan Associates, realized his injury was worse than he thought. About a month after the MRI, Colehower was diagnosed with a rare case of Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of cancer in the lymphatic system, and unlike non-Hodgkin lymphoma, it has a high survival rate.
“I was very fortunate in that regard,” Colehower said.
This year, Colehower was named corporate chairman of the of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk Oct. 13 at Centennial Olympic Park, which is the second largest of over 200 walks country-wide.
“Essentially, it is a fundraising effort,” Colehower said. “We also want to raise awareness and provide a great environment for companies or families to come out and learn more about it.”
Supporters will walk the nearly two-mile trek holding red balloons, survivors hold white ones and people walking in memory hold gold ones, Colehower said, and all of the balloons are illuminated with candles or “small battery-powered light bulbs,” which “lights up the entire night.”
Light the Night Director Mary Colston said they are expecting about 9,000 walkers and hope to raise $1.3 million this year.
She said all proceeds from the walk go to funding blood cancer research and providing financial aid and free educational materials to patients and families.
“I think we’re on a good path, thanks to Jon’s leadership,” Colston said.
Despite his diagnosis, Colehower is still going strong and is still racing.
“It’s a tremendous release for me. It’s very much an individual sport and a chance to be quiet and alone,” he said.
“It’s about establishing what you are made of,” he said. “The more challenging the situation, the better.”
However, Colehower said he feels side effects from weeks of enduring radiation treatment.
“There was some scarring on my lungs and I can feel it when I’m doing a long distance race,” he said.
Since his diagnosis, Colehower completed six triathlons and said he is training for another half ironman now.
Since 2001, he has completed more than 30 triathlons, including a full iron-man, which entails a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run.