In the summer of 1993, several weeks after delivering the keynote address at a Sports Careers seminar, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED director of communications Art Berke received an unusual gift: a life-sized rubber facsimile of a human foot. Attached to the foot was a strip of paper on which was printed an extract from Berke's speech, advice that one (unemployed) listener in the audience had taken to heart. "It read, 'If you want to succeed in the sports industry, you have to be willing to take the extra step,' " says Berke. "And there was a P.S.: 'At least I got my foot in the door at SI.' "
Three years later Dave Mingey, the author of that foot-note, has his entire body inside our door. As SI's senior publicist, Mingey, 25, oversees the daily editorial publicity of the magazine as well as that of our sister publications, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED FOR KIDS and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED PRESENTS.
On April 15 Mingey took a break from his duties to become one of 38,706 entrants in the centennial running of the Boston Marathon. Though Mingey, a Drexel Hill, Pa., native, was the six seat on two high school national-championship crews while attending St. Joseph's Prep in Philadelphia and later captained the crew team at Boston College, he had never run a marathon. He did so to raise money for Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. "My father died of lung cancer when I was nine," says Mingey, the youngest of seven children, "and my uncle Dick Kelly, who has been like a second father, has Hodgkin's disease. I wanted to do something to honor them."
An injury to the tendons surrounding his left knee severely limited Mingey's training (his longest training run was a five-miler), but his sister Jane, an accomplished runner, refused to let him withdraw. "On the eve of the race," says Mingey, "she gave me our dad's World War II U.S. Army dog tags to wear as a reminder that we were about to go into battle."
In Boston, Jane slowed her pace to run with her brother, who popped aspirin and stopped along the way for massages, ice treatments and an ale at an old BC haunt. Six hours, 29 minutes and 39 seconds after leaving Hopkinton, the Mingey siblings crossed the finish line on Boylston Street. "It was the hardest thing I've ever done athletically," says Mingey, who along with some 400 others helped the Institute raise close to $1 million, "but we made it fun, too." Senior writer Leigh Montville may not have had as much fun. After finishing his first marathon in 5:23:39, Montville, who maintains a strict, sybaritic regimen when not in training (which until this year was always), reported, "Was beaten by man who carried cardboard re-creation of Old North Church on back. Feet hurt. Legs hurt. Crawled up stairs to house at night."
Mingey was on his feet when he reported to work two days after the marathon. Good thing. Berke often dispatches him on a moment's notice to escort the SI swimsuit models or such sports celebrities as Muhammad Ali, Cal Ripken Jr. and Steve Young. Mingey puts the assignments into perspective. "Meeting famous people sounds glamorous, but it's also superficial," he says. "What I enjoy is getting to know the people behind the names." We're sure that Mingey will have numerous opportunities to do that in the future. "Dave is to p.r.," says senior writer Michael Silver, "what George Clooney is to ER."