Running Across America
Jeff Keith
was only 12 when doctors discovered he had bone cancer and had to have his leg amputated above the knee. Growing up in the East, he wouldn’t come to know USC for another 10 years or so, but during that time he was anything but idle.
“I was an active kid, and after getting my prosthesis I continued in sports,” he says. “I did some 15 triathlons throughout my college days.” He attended Boston College, playing first-team goalie on the varsity lacrosse team. And, after graduation in 1984, he attempted something he’d long dreamed of: to be the first amputee to run across America. Keith’s highly publicized 3,000-mile journey from east to west brought him to Los Angeles – and Swim With Mike.
“I’d thought about law school, but never really got serious about it,” he recalls. “As I did my run, I realized that’s not what I wanted to do. I decided I wanted to get an MBA in finance.”
His timing couldn’t have been better. He was making his way through the Mojave Desert, nearing the end of his transcontinental run, when Ron Orr noticed a newspaper article about him. “Ron drove out to the desert and tracked me down,” Keith says. “He asked me, ‘What are you going to do when you finish the run?’ I said, ‘I don’t know yet.’ And he said, ‘Well, would you like to go to grad school?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ ”
Keith finished his cross-country quest, literally running right into the ocean at Marina del Rey (“My foot print is in a glass case there – you’d walk right by it unless you were really looking for it,” he laughs), tied up some loose ends on the East Coast, and entered the Graduate School of Business Administration at USC. After earning his MBA in 1988, he moved back to the East, where’s he now a corporate salesperson in the high-yield department at Salomon Brothers in New York City.
“Without question the education I got at USC was a platform for me to come back to the New York area and get a job on Wall Street,” he says. “Swim With Mike was super for me because not only did it put me through grad school, but I met a whole group of new friends.”
And he’s still the only amputee to run across the U.S. l


 

 


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