Why Son’s Birth Defect Turned This Houston Man Into An Ironman

Faced with his son's rare birth defect four years ago, one Houston man did not lose hope. After his son's successful surgeries, he founded a nonprofit organization to help others with the same fate — and became a triathlete along the way.

At a playroom at the Texas Children’s Hospital, several children who’ve suffered birth defects and their parents gather to sign a flag for “Shawn’s Anomaly.” That’s a nonprofit organization founded by Matthew Murphy, whose son Shawn was born with a rare congenital anomaly.

“It affects one in 35 million children. We saw him overcome the impossible in his first year of life with three surgeries here at Texas Children’s Hospital. And I made a commitment that I was going to do whatever I could to make sure another family didn’t go through what we did.”

For three years, Murphy has been raising awareness for birth defects through his organization. His preferred way of doing that is by running, swimming and cycling – and not just short distances.

“I did 17 events that year, including one half-Ironman and two half-marathons. And then in 2012 I ramped up my training to do more and ended up doing the Houston Marathon and then eventually the Ironman Texas in May.”

Murphy says seeing his son overcome the birth defect taught him that nothing is impossible. His next big goal is to make it to the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii.

HOPE signIf that’ll happen depends on how many people will vote for his inspiring story. Murphy’s already made it to the final round of the “Kona Inspired” contest, whose winners get to participate in Hawaii.  The public can vote through midnight tonight.

Murphy plans to carry the flag signed by the families at the Texas Children’s Hospital through the finish line.

You can view different entries and submit your vote here.


Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter.Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters and the Houston Press Club.Florian is a native of Germany. His studies in Leipzig...

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