In the memory of Sean Murphy

David Martin creates scholarship in honor of man who died during Ironman Cd'A

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COEUR d'ALENE - It was just a few minutes.

David Martin and Sean Murphy chatted, then helped each other zip up their wetsuits before the start of last year's Ironman Coeur d'Alene on June 24.

Both men decided they would not be part of the mass start of 2,000 or so athletes, and instead wait a minute before heading out for the 2.4-mile swim.

They wished each other well, and shortly after the cannon fired, walked into Lake Coeur d'Alene and began swimming.

"We started out on our own," Martin said.

A short time later, the 44-year-old Murphy was pulled from the water. The Seattle man was rushed to an ambulance, and taken to Kootenai Medical Center. There, he remained on life support until he died two days later.

A coroner verdict found that Murphy's heart slipped into an abnormal rhythm, losing the necessary coordination to pump blood. He then lost consciousness. After losing consciousness in the water, he suffered what's called "hypoxic encephalopathy," which is an injury to the brain from lack of oxygen.

"It could have easily been anyone else," Martin said.

Martin, 73, said he will never forget those final few minutes with Murphy.

Though he didn't know much about Murphy, he admired his fortitude and commitment.

"This guy was doing what he wanted to do and obviously what he was capable of doing," Martin said.

Martin wanted to do more than remember Murphy. He wanted to do more than tell people about those few minutes.

The Los Angeles man recently presented a $5,000 scholarship in Murphy's honor to a second-year student at the University of California, Riverside.

He plans to donate a similar scholarship each year through the Exceeding Expectations Foundation, a program in San Bernardino, Calif., that serves an inner-city population.

"It's my commitment to what I think is necessary in this world, and that's education," he said. "So many kids get left behind because no one takes notice of them."

Exceeding Expectations is designed to encourage at-risk kids to move their lives in a positive direction, using the sport of triathlon as the vehicle.

The goal, Martin said, is not to turn kids into top athletes, but offer them opportunities to participate in a lifestyle that is healthy, goal-oriented and unlike that which they experience in their everyday lives.

"We strive to replace negative influences with positive role models and to instill in the kids a powerful new discipline of setting measurable goals and working hard to achieve them," according to the organization's website.

Martin is a volunteer with the program, and firmly believes in it.

"It's so rewarding to see what happens to these kids," he said.

Not just the kids, but their brothers, sisters, parents and friends. The impact is far-reaching.

"It just keeps going and going and going, the influence," Martin said.

Exceeding Expectations is about people taking time to try and make a difference in a young person's life, Martin said, and that is what he plans to do - through scholarships in Murphy's memory.

"As result of the impact he made on my life, I want to make the same impact on other lives," Martin said.

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