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July 31, 2003

Running For Life: One trading executive goes through mountains and valleys in the battle against wo

By Gregory Bresiger

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  • Running For Life: One trading executive goes through mountains and valleys in the battle against wo

Joe DeSena, chief executive of Burlington Capital Markets, is a physical marvel who routinely participates in extreme sports to raise money for worthy causes. But he didn't start out running great distances to beat world hunger or save Third World children with birth defects.

In fact, it all began because of reasons of vanity, he concedes.

"I began because I wanted to look good and stay in shape," said DeSena, 34, who is 5'10, 175 lbs. DeSena also wanted to introduce clients and friends to a healthy lifestyle. He counsels friends and relatives on the need for proper diet.

But now DeSena, a modest man, has astounded friends with 100-mile runs and all sorts of feats that one would routinely expect to read about in the pages of Superman. The veteran trader has also found something more than trading or training highs. Indeed, he raises lots of money for all sorts of charitable causes.

Medical Costs

DeSena's latest mission of mercy is to pay the huge medical bills of a 10-year old child from El Salvador with birth defects. Without a series of operations, Ricardo Guevara will have serious problems. So Beth Israel Medical Center in New York - which is picking up a large part of the bill that will run in the millions of dollars - and DeSena, along with friends, are going the extra mile to save this child's life. And Burlington Capital, which is an agency trading firm in New York that provides block, program and single stock directional trading services for institutional clients, has been tripling contributions.

"When you meet him and talk to him, it's easy to see why I want to raise money for him. He is a wonderful child," DeSena said. Ricardo's problems have led the veteran securities executive to try something that even he never has done before - not one, but a series of trying runs in difficult environments.

DeSena was scheduled to run 100 miles in one day through the mountains of Vermont in July. Each 16 miles DeSena stops for pickles and pickle juice. That's because the sodium helps keep him going. Nevertheless, as the courageous DeSena approached the same incredible challenge in Vermont last month, he was a bit fearful. "I have nightmares about this every night. Have I gotten myself into more than I could handle?" he asked. "Nevertheless, I believe the human body is capable of doing just about anything."

But DeSena's bad dreams may be triggered by what will follow in Vermont. After that, he'll be off to Death Valley, California for the 135-mile Bad Water Run. That's 135 miles that will be completed in 31 hours or the remarkable DeSena will try to do so. He will also enter the CEO Ironman competition. Any one of these by itself would be grueling for even the most physically fit person.

Still, there's a catch: DeSena will run in all of these events within a six-day period!

DeSena notes that his participation in extreme sports wasn't planned. It just developed as he became interested in helping people. Now hundred mile runs are par for the course for DeSena.