Member of the Month: April, 2017
DCCS would like to congratulate Lou Brooks on being nominated as the DCCS April Member of the Month! Here is his story.
Tell us a little bit about yourself? Where from? What do you do?
I was born in Baltimore (Go Ravens & Orioles) and moved around quite a bit growing up due to my father’s business. So I was able to experience living all over, especially up and down the east coast from south Florida to Vermont! However, I have spent the most time in Virginia, where I graduated from High School in Fredericksburg and then got my undergraduate degree from George Mason. Other than the 3 years I spent in Law School in PA, I have been here in the NOVA area since 1988.
Professionally, I have my own small law firm with offices in Manassas and Fairfax City, to be next to the two busiest courthouses in Virginia, as I am a trial attorney with a practice that has a very heavy emphasis on Criminal & Traffic Defense, Juvenile Law and Personal Injury.
I live just outside the Manassas area in Nokesville to be close to where my Daughter Alyeska “Aly” lives primarily with her mother in Bristow. My personal time is spent mostly either with Aly or doing what I call adventure sports or Volunteering at the Nokesville Volunteer Fire Department where I have been a member for over 12 years since graduating from the Fire Academy.
My daughter was born after a car accident and very difficult operating room procedure and has several disabilities including Cerebral Palsy, Autism and a Seizure Disorder. As such, we keep busy every week with a lot of therapies and activities such as specialized swim classes, therapeutic horse riding, and the TOPSoccer team that I help coach.
When did you start running? Any favorite races? Destinations?
As I mentioned before, I love what I call adventure sports. I played football, baseball, track and cross-country in high school, but got hard-core into cycling when I was in college and competed at the pretty serious Cat 3 racer level for a little while and I even bicycled across the United States helping to start what has become a very big Charity Event called the Journey of Hope with an organization called the Ability Experience which is a Philanthropy serving people with Disabilities founded by my college fraternity Pi Kappa Phi.
I gave up competitive cycling for the demands of law school and began to feel a big void upon graduation. After reflecting upon my younger years spent hiking and snow skiing when I lived in the mountains of Vermont & Colorado, I decided to pursue my dream of big-time mountaineering and skiing. This lead to me gradually hiking and climbing bigger and bigger mountains from winter summits & ice climbing on Mt. Washington, to several trips to Yosemite, The Sierras, the Rockies and Cascades to hike, climb and bagging as many 14,000 ft peaks as I could. I have also had the fortune to ski in most major areas across the West such as Aspen, Vail, Telluride, Park City etc. My favorite & most significant climbs were Mt. Rainier and Denali.
My Denali Expedition was quite an adventure/ordeal which I once suffered some strong PTSD from and still occasionally do. Overall it was the most amazing and demanding event of my life mixed in with some of the greatest suffering I have ever endured! Due to severe weather and other issues, my team and I spent 29 days on that majestic mountain (average trip is 14-18 days). We were stuck at high altitude on several occasions including one 4 day period at 17,000 ft. where the blizzard kept us trapped in our tents while 75 mph winds gusted outside and the highest temperature it reached inside was Minus 40 degrees. Overall 5 people died and it is an experience I will Never forget.
So, about 5 years ago as I started to take a break from the big mountains I began to run small races like Tough Mudders and Half-Marathons and that led to me joining some work colleagues for Ragnars every year in multiple locations. I had fun, but did not like serious distance running on roads and would only train by running 3 times a week for 4 or 5 weeks before an event and then quit running again until another one was approaching.
Then my 50th Birthday was looming on Labor Day weekend last year and I wanted to do some adventure with the number 50 in it to commemorate the occasion, so I looked to see what was the most majestic mountain race on my birthday weekend and the Volcanic 50 naturally jumped out at me because it was Mt. St. Helen’s. So I started training by running on the trails that I had spent many years on carrying 80-100 pound packs and found that I really enjoyed the quicker pace and much lighter loads.
When did you join DC Capital Striders? How did you learn about the group?
It wasn’t until after being introduced to the DC Capital Striders Trail Running "Wolfpack" by a friend last May, that I truly fell in love with trail running and ultras because of the added benefit of sharing this great sport with an amazing group of people that share the same passion and have become like a second family to me! And this year with the support & encouragement of the "Wolfpack", I hope to finish my 1st 100K at the UROC and later in the year my 1st 100 Miler. The bottom line is that for me, trail running is a spiritual journey just like all the other adventure sports and also just like the other sports above it has helped my cope with a very stressful work and personal life and I don’t see me giving it up anytime soon as long as my body will let me!
You recently participated in the Hike it Up Blue event for Autism Awareness? Tell us more about it, how people can get involved and continue donating for the cause.
Every year World Autism Awareness Day is celebrated on April 2nd, and about 8 years ago Autism Speaks started a collaborative effort called “Light It Up Blue” to raise awareness on this day by encouraging people and businesses etc. to turn their lights blue and wear blue clothing. This incredible event has truly gone viral as approximately 20,000 Landmarks & Buildings turned blue this past year including every major skyscraper in every major city on earth as well as the Pyramids in Egypt, Niagra Falls, The Sydney Opera House, The Christ The Redeemer Statute in Rio, the International Space Station etc.
As I was sitting in my office a few years ago trying to think of what I could turn blue on the pending April 2nd to honor my daughter, it occurred to me that as a mountain lover, that naturally the highest point in Shenandoah National Park was it. That year, me and about 12 others hastily threw together a plan on 9 days notice and we hiked from the bottom of White Oak Canyon to the top of Hawksbill Summit (SNP highpoint at 4,050ft.) and we turned the rocks and summit platform blue. Hike It Up Blue just finished a very successful 3rd annual event in which over 50 people participated and we once again raised about $8,000 as we did last year to benefit The Ability Experience and Piedmont TOPSoccer, which is the adaptive soccer program that my daughter and 100’s of other local special needs kids participate in.
I send a Very Big Thank You to DC Capital Striders Running Group for being one of our Official Sponsors and to the many Wolfpack members who individually donated and to those many Wolves who participated…your support and encouragement meant a great deal to me!!
For more information or to see the Event photos visit the Facebook page here:
And to make a donation to the cause click here: