Salisbury man dedicates his Ironman efforts to Penley and ‘Free to Breathe’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 4, 2016

SALISBURY — Johnny Behrooz of Salisbury is in intense training for the PPD Ironman North Carolina, which will be held in Wilmington Oct. 22.

Behrooz also is using the Ironman as a way to raise funds for the nonprofit Free to Breathe organization.

The Ironman, presented by New Hanover Regional Medical Center, includes a 2.4-mile swim in a channel of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, a 112-mile bicycle course and a 26.2-mile run.

“Free to Breathe drew my interest when a family friend (Nancy Penley) lost her battle with lung cancer this summer,” said Behrooz, a 2004 graduate of  West Rowan High. “I have dedicated my fundraising efforts and race to Mrs. Penley, (who was) selfless, kind, an educator, friend, sister, mother and grandmother.

“Her strength and continued faith through her many bouts with cancer are an inspiration to me.”

Behrooz said he has been putting in 12 to 18 hours a week of swimming, running and cycling in trying to get ready for the Ironman North Carolina. He has set up a website at for accepting donations online.

Or Behrooz can be contacted at 704-213-3511 for information on other ways to donate to Free to Breathe.

All donations are tax deductible.

Behrooz said Penley and all others “affected by this terrible disease will make all the hours, miles and sweat sacrificed during my training worth it.”

“And on race day,” Behrooz added, “in those moments of exhaustion, I will feel satisfaction with every breath knowing others will benefit from my efforts.”