Running For Life: How One Man’s Health Battle Became His Life’s Mission

By Candice Holdorf

38-year-old Eric O’Connor credits his love of running for giving him the tenacity to face some of the toughest battles of his life. Though active in team sports as a teenager, the Wheaton native admits he initially wasn’t a fan of running. It wasn’t until his future father-in-law—a lifetime triathlete/marathoner—suggested he give it a try that Mr. Connor accepted the challenge to run a marathon.

He met that challenge by running the Chicago Marathon. But two months later, Mr. O’Connor suddenly went from being in the best shape of his life at age 23 to barely walking up a flight of stairs when his hepatitis C—a disease he had contracted as a teenager—suddenly came out of remission.

Mr. O’Connor recalls his dedication to running as a major motivator for beating the disease. When he talks about his time in recovery, he says, “All I could think about was ‘what’s it going to take get back to what I was able to do and how can I get back to training?’”

One year later, he was back to running and six months after that he ran the Drake Relay Half Marathon in Des Moines, Iowa. His love of running fueled his comeback—sometimes running up to three marathons a year.

That all changed in 2011 when he found himself fighting for his life once again when blood clots lodged in his lungs. Again in recovery, all he could think was, “No seriously, when can I run?”

Six months later, he could finally walk a block without taking a break—which slowly got him back into training. He walked a mile. Then he walked two miles. Then he started running again, this time in longer, slower ultra-marathons—starting with a 50-mile race. He eventually shifted his running focus from racing to raising awareness for the National Blood Clot Alliance, where he now sits on the board.

It was clear Mr. O’Connor had a mindset that proved he could beat the odds against life-threatening diseases. But despite living a health-conscious lifestyle that included running as well as weightlifting and healthy eating, he found he couldn’t catch a break when it came to purchasing life insurance—something that was important to him, as he wanted to protect his wife and three sons.

That’s when he discovered Health IQ, a life insurance company focused on celebrating and rewarding health-conscious people. Health IQ was able to find Mr. O’Connor a rate that took into account his current health-conscious lifestyle—not just his past medical history.

Health IQ has gathered science and data to convince life insurance companies that health-conscious people, including runners, deserve lower rates due to lower mortality risk. Research shows runners live longer than non-runners, thanks to health benefits that improve cardiovascular health and reduce risk of diabetes.

Health IQ interviewed Mr. O’Connor about his experience buying life insurance.

Health IQ: What had been your previous experience buying life insurance?

Eric O’Connor: Life insurance has always been a problem for me. Because of my hepatitis C, each time I went to get life insurance it was almost impossible…so I kind of took what I could get. But it was so costly.

Health IQ: What do you like about Health IQ and how does that fit in with your health journey?

EO: I always felt I was getting put in a bucket unfairly. I’m able to function at a high level. I’m able to train at a high level. I’m running 2000 miles a year. My lifestyle is healthy. But I happen to have these things that happened. I don’t feel like those should dictate the quotes I’m getting or the bucket I’m being placed in. And Health IQ was the first company to say, “You know what? You’re right!” Health IQ saved me $100 a month and got me a quarter of a million dollars more…with my history! It was a very honest and open process. And the idea that there’s test you take to assess your Health IQ—I thought that was fascinating.

Health IQ: Would you recommend Health IQ to runners?

EO: No doubt. I tell people about Health IQ all the time. The fact that I clicked an ad, had a call within an hour and within the next hour had more information on what the next steps were—it was a very honest and open process. If you’ve ever bought life insurance from anybody else, that’s not what it feels like. It feels like “how much can they get from me to meet their quotas?” This did not feel that way at all. This was all about what they can do for me and—because of what I’m doing on a daily basis—what they’re going to be able to reward me with. The entire process was outstanding.

CARA Announces Official Partnership with Health IQ

CARA is proud to officially partner with Health IQ to offer special-rate life insurance for runners. As a licensed broker in all 50 states, Health IQ has helped tens of thousands of health-conscious people, including runners, secure more than $4 billion in life insurance coverage.

CARA members can qualify for the special-rate life insurance for runners by verifying their running knowledge and health consciousness through a short Health IQ quiz. Proof of CARA membership or certified distance and competition results also helps runner qualify for special rates.

HealthIQ.com/CARA

This interview was brought to you by Health IQ, Life Insurance for the Health Conscious

About Health IQ

Health IQ’s mission is to improve the health of the world by celebrating the health conscious through social and financial rewards. Founded in 2013 by a team of health-conscious entrepreneurs, Health IQ gathered research and data to convince top-rated, innovative insurance carriers that health-conscious people have lower mortality and deserve lower rates on life insurance. Health IQ is a licensed life insurance agency in all 50 states and has helped thousands of health-conscious people secure billions in insurance coverage. Learn more at HealthIQ.com

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