Marc Sacco, 57, Reading, Vermont
Cyclist Marc Sacco Marc once had aspirations for the Olympics until a road accident relegated him to recreational cycling and running in his 20s. He had no notion of returning to competition until extreme challenges prompted him to pursue it as part of recovery therapy. His professional background also gave him a powerful healing tool that he claims has saved his life.
Now 57, he has been a paramedic and emergency department nurse for over 25 years and discovered he was a natural hypnotist by the way he spoke to people to calm them down. He and a fellow nurse partner were called “the patient whisperers” and the two became Board Certified Hypnotists and authors who have been in demand training other medical professionals on their complementary medicine techniques.
Marc knows the techniques work. Now an emergency department manager at a small Vermont hospital, he has had to apply them to his own healing after several physical and emotional challenges, notably the PTSD sustained after losing a paramedic partner in one of the World Trade Center tower collapses in the September 11th attack in 2001. “He was supposed to relieve me that morning but I told him I would stay late for him and he responded to the towers. It took me ten years to tell the story to anyone else.”
Marc says therapy, running and cycling helped manage his condition. But adversity returned when he was violently attacked not once but twice in 2020. In January, a violent patient attacked him and inflicted severe head injury, hearing loss and torn arm ligaments before he was restrained. It required numerous procedures, physical therapy and treatment for PTSD and traumatic brain injury (TBI).
“It really did a number on me. I had to get my mind back out of a dark place and on the path to recovery,” he relates. “Hypnosis and neuro linguistic programming were essential with the therapy I was getting because the combination of PTSD and TBI was debilitating. I almost quit nursing because I could not bring myself back to the hospital.”
After initial recovery, Marc began running as therapy and was training for the New York City Marathon when he was again attacked on his own property by a neighbor having a mental crisis. The assault left him with another head injury and torn rotator cuff, biceps tendon and meniscus. Incredibly, the incident happened on September 11, 2020, which triggered his PTSD.
“Starting at square one after more surgery, I began to run while working with physical therapy to become strong enough to ride the bike again,” he says. “I joined a cycling club and some of the older riders told me about the Vermont Senior Games. Then they said the date of the race was September 12 – one year and a day since the vicious attack! At that moment, I knew I had to be at the starting line to prove I was stronger than all of this. And I did!”
Marc won silver medals in his two state races and knew he had to follow the journey to the 2022 National Senior Games presented by Humana. He and his wife Patricia met as cyclists and she has also signed up to compete. “I never dreamed of qualifying for Nationals before that moment, and now I will be competing in all four cycling events with my goals set high,” he asserts. “Being able to return to nursing and competitive cycling has been a true blessing that has saved my life.”
“I had to practice what I preach, that the mind is connected to physical healing,” he continues. “I did daily trance work and the results were all positive. I am a changed person after all of this. I am so positive in my outlook on life now. My wife frets about doing well in the race, but I don’t care. I just want to show up on that starting line. That’s my success and achievement. Anything beyond that is just gravy.”