Long Island pediatrician Richard Sartori accompanied the Brodskys to Kenya in December to run the marathon and examine 56 children, nearly all of them suffering from malaria.
Sartori says he was buoyed by Brodsky’s spirit. “He’s quite a character,” the doctor said. “Definitely inspirational. This man was supposed to be dead 10 years ago. Anybody else would have been curled up in a fetal position. He said, ‘The hell with this. I’m going to run.’ ”
And Jodi Brodsky, a 1972 graduate of Miami Beach Senior High, has run right alongside him.
They met while she was earning her law degree at the South Texas College of Law in Houston, and their first date was a run through Houston’s Memorial Park.
“When he first told me about the HIV,” she said, “I was shocked. The girls were in camp. He was my best friend and I had no idea. I felt sorry for him. We were both very naïve.
“Running is our passion. Richard is so busy working on his foundation and getting people to know what he’s doing that he’s not focused on, ‘Oh my God, what’s the next MRI going to say?’ ”
Their daughters, now young adults, don’t like to talk about their dad’s tribulations. They’re just happy he’s alive. Jodi, who works in retail sales for Nike and Quiksilver, said she and her husband practice safe sex and she gets tested for HIV every three months.
“We’ve taken a bad situation and tried to make it positive,” said Jodi, who needs to run a 4:10 Sunday to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
“I’m getting faster, so you never know.”
Richard said his health is strong thanks to nine pills daily, including anti-seizure medication. He said his T-cell count is well above the danger zone for AIDS, “and the viral load is undetectable.”
He still gets headaches, however, and is prone “to stress out.” Running helps, he says, as does his intensive fundraising.
“He’s out there knocking on doors,” Sartori said. “I’ve seen him at midnight start asking for donations on a subway full of teenagers who have been partying. I’m waiting to get beat up, and eventually somebody says, ‘That’s enough!’ and puts $5 in his cup.
“He’s had a lot of doors shut in his face and he’s beyond caring about what people think. He’s beyond blessed, and he’s coming to Miami.