Our Founder’s Story

By all accounts, John Walston was living a great life. He has a beautiful family that includes his wife, Megan and three young children, and owns a successful construction business. 

Then suddenly in April 2018, John developed tinnitus - a loud ringing in his ear that wouldn’t stop.  A few months later, an MRI revealed an acoustic neuroma tumor in his head that was impacting his auditory nerve. 

That day was met with a wide range of emotions and the only way he knew how to cope was to go for a run. Running was something John had enjoyed in the past but he had not run in about a year. 

Meanwhile, the effects of the tumor continued to worsen during the next nine months and included balance issues, vertigo and ringing, coupled with high anxiety. John found that running became therapy for him to manage the new anxiety that he had not experienced before.

Finally, in April 2019, John underwent surgery. There was hope that life would get back to normal. However, eight weeks after surgery, John felt like something exploded in his head. Tinnitus and the sound of reverberation was off the charts. His voice, every heartbeat and every footstep, all reverberated in his head and he began feeling like he was going crazy. 

Trying to act normal was exhausting each day and John felt as though he was failing his family. He was miserable, short-tempered, and impatient with Megan and the children. They recognized John was not the husband and father they once knew. Yet, they gave him the space, love and support he needed.

As the effects of the complications worsened, unable to sleep and feeling psychotic at times, John would run at all hours of the night. He said all the noise in his head was overwhelming and exhausting, but running and his supportive family were the only things that kept him going. 

Finally, in February 2020 John underwent a second surgery at New York University Langone Medical Center that eliminated the reverberation and installed a cochlear implant. He cried almost the entire three hour trip home to Albany because he finally felt almost normal again. He still copes with some anxiety and other side effects, but functions at a normal level again. 

This experience resulted in John examining his own life and what is important. He knows he could not have survived without a community, which in John’s case consisted of his amazing wife, beautiful children and his extended family. He is forever grateful for their love, support and forgiveness.

Lastly, he could not have survived without running and movement, and a mindset that told him not to give up.