There are 168 hours in a week. On average, says a study from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, people spend about 35 percent of those hours asleep. Another 23 percent is spent working, and 24 percent is devoted to "leisure activities."
But for one week in May 2010, Mike Sheehy spent nearly half his time, a total of 77 hours, running. He logged 408 miles and landed in the Guinness World Records for the most miles run in a single week. This feat, and the cancer fund-raising inspiration behind it, led to him being named one of this year's Fortune "Heroes of the 500," which celebrates Fortune 500 employees whose "extraordinary acts of bravery, kindness, and selflessness are changing people's lives."
After all, racing isn't a solitary sport. Many, like Sheehy, run on behalf of others and for causes larger than themselves. And even though he's the one out there running, he says it's powered by the support he gets from his family and friends.
A 45-year-old San Diego native, U.S. Army veteran and graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, Sheehy is a senior director of global procurement for Abbott. He prides himself on living life in a big way. He's scaled five of the "Seven Summits," dived the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and did the legendary Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Once a month, he even treks the 35 miles between his far north suburban office and his home in downtown Chicago.
Sheehy's passion for marathon running was inspired as much by his own desire to live fully as it was by a friend's inability to do so.
When an Abbott colleague Julie was diagnosed with leukemia, Sheehy began to see running as a tool as much as a hobby. Julie didn't work in Sheehy's department, but everyone around her felt impacted by the diagnosis. Her fellow employees brainstormed ways to cheer her up and help her battle this disease.
"One day, someone mentioned that the department should have me run with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training," he says. "They would raise the money and I would do the running."