Stories From Main Street: New York, NY

CBS 2 - December 20, 2010

by Sean Adams

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) - Two simple words profoundly changed Matthew Long's life.

His words: "I will."

WCBS 880's Sean Adams reports

Five years ago, firefighter Long was riding his bicycle to work during the transit strike on December 22, 2005. A private charter bus rolled over him while making an illegal turn.

"My abdomen, my abdominal wall was torn apart and my pelvis was crushed. They didn't think I'd make it through the night," Long tells WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams. "When they explained to them the type of athlete I was, the doctors went, 'Well, maybe we give him about a five percent chance to live.'."

Long was a marathoner and an Iron Man.

He beat the odds. He survived.

But months later, physically shattered and emotionally drained, he was depressed - until he had a frank talk with his mother.

Long says, "I was really probably at my low and rather than her pitying me and, you know, hugging me, doing what my mother probably felt was the right thing to do, she turned around and said 'Snap out of it!' and she just gave me some really tough love."

Long's mantra became "I will."

Despite pain and a limp, he ran the New York City Marathon and finished the Lake Placid Iron Man.

He wrote a book, "The Long Run."

He helps other accident victims with his I Will Foundation.

"We've done everything from just pay for race fees because people couldn't afford it to strict coach plans just to help people get to their goals. It's all about you and your determination and you have to just get up every morning and whatever it is you want to do, say 'I will.'."