26.2 People Who Have Inspired Me To Run The New York City Marathon

Photo by Simon Fairhurst on Unsplash

After more than 200 days of training, were’ finally here, just days, no, hours really, from the 2018 TCS New York City Marathon. My wife is running it with me. To say we’re excited is an understatement. We’re also a bit nervous. We’re nervous-ited.

The combination of nerves and excitement is to be expected. It’s not every day you join a 26.2-mile trek through the nation’s largest city for the world’s largest marathon. Even if this will be my third marathon, it will be my first time running New York. The five-borough party is special, extra special for my wife. For her, it will be her first ever marathon. She said, “go big or go home.” We’re going big.

But this race is also extraordinary for me because it’s the first time in my life I’m running for a cause, and it’s one I’m passionate about.

This Sunday I’ll be running for Tackle Kids Cancer, an amazing non-profit out of Hackensack, New Jersey’s Children’s Cancer Institute. They raise money to support pediatric cancer research and also financially support area families currently battling pediatric cancer. It’s a cause close to my heart, simply because, as a news reporter, I’ve met several children battling this terrible disease.

So now, after raising more than $3,500 for #TeamTKC,  I’m not just running for myself. I’m running for all the kids who can’t.

And in that spirit, my wife came up with a great idea — dedicate each mile of the race to someone special, whether that be someone I love or someone who’s inspired me.

So, from friends and family who have been there for me, to the kids who have moved me to run for Tackle Kids Cancer, below is to whom I’m dedicating my first NYC Marathon.

Mile 1

Shalane Flanagan, last year’s NYC Marathon champion of the women’s division. This woman trained for seven years before finally winning the race, and nearly retired before doing so. But she pushed through, becoming the first American female to win NYC in 40 years. SO thrilled to cross that start-line and share the same course as her and the other amazing female athletes our country has running NYC, which includes 2018 Boston Marathon women’s champion Des Linden.

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Mile 2

My Dad, who survived a heart attack at age 49. Part of me runs because our family now knows the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

Mile 3

Brayden Eidenshink, who is currently fighting for his life due to heart disease. I did a story on him in Bakersfield five years ago. He’s been on a waiting list for a new heart nearly since that story aired. He finally got his donor heart two weeks ago. Now he’s fighting rejection. Lots of prayers are going out for my little buddy. I know he’s not going to give up his fight, so I can’t give up when the ‘going gets tough’ during a race.

Mile 4

Noah Coram, a Kansas City teen I interviewed last year. He was battling one of the rarest forms of cancers in existence and passed away just a few weeks after I met him. Despite his condition, he was positive and happy and truly one of the most inspiring people I’ve been blessed to meet. He’s part of the reason I want to Tackle Kids Cancer and his spirit will be with me on race day, no doubt.

Mile 5

Suzie Miller, my best friend Bobby Hayes’ sister, who passed from pancreatic cancer in 2013. I didn’t know her, but I’ve heard Bobby talk about her so many times I feel like I did. Part of this race will be for my best friend and his sister, hoping we can someday find a cure.

Mile 6

My Uncle Graydon, who passed away last winter. Just as I know his son (my cousin) Jeff will be thinking of him on race day, so will I. Graydon would think we’re nuts for running 26.2 miles, but it will put a smile on our faces knowing he’s still with us in spirit.

Mile 7

My Mom, who has always supported me and my dreams, even if that meant wanting to be a Ghostbuster.

Me with my mom and dad in St. Louis.

Mile 8

Jacob Campista, our cousin who was born with a rare condition yet continues to inspire us with his love for life and for others.

Mile 9

Tyler Trent, a student at Purdue who has terminal bone cancer. He’s not just inspired a team with his fight but an entire nation, that includes my wife and I.

Mile 10

Murelle Plotner, an awesome teen from St. Joseph, IL who has spent hundreds of days in STL Children’s Hospital battling cancer. She’s had five transplants, and will never give up until she wins her fight and returns to the passion she loves more than anything — running.

Mile 11

Kasen Halbert, a new friend a met just a few weeks ago, Kasen is a five-year-old born with a severe form of dwarfism that includes a brittle bone disease. He’s smart, funny and so happy. I feel honored to have spent 15 minutes with him. He brightens everyone’s day when around him.

Mile 12

Ariel Puent, born with just one arm and it hasn’t stopped her from conquering her dreams, which includes being a badass softball player.

Mile 13

Caitlyn, my cousin who I love like a niece. SO funny, always smiling, ever since she was a baby. SO excited to spend time with her and see her there for Johanna and I on race day. I expect to see a great sign. :b

Mile 14

Kieli, also my cousin who was born when I graduated high school…and seems SO grown up now! She’s also unafraid to still be a kid and play the ‘stinky sock game’ with us. I’m just as happy she will be there to celebrate our marathon with us. Again, love her like a niece.

Mile 15

My Uncle Rodney, who’s not just an uncle, but almost like an older brother to me. I’ve always treasured spending time with my Uncle Rod since I was little. I really appreciate the love and support he’s always given me over the years regarding ANY dream I was pursuing (there’s been a lot of them).

Mile 16

Justin Kauffman, my childhood friend and high school basketball teammate who passed away when we were in college. Every time I run a marathon I can’t help but think of him simply because I know he would be living his life to its fullest, and I owe it to him to do the same.

Mile 17

Aaron Whitt, an awesome senior football player I met this year from O’Fallon, Illinois who survived a stroke last year, battled back, and made it back to the football field this fall.

Mile 18

Liam Niemera, a six-year-old basketball player I met this fall who was born with spina bifida. He’s an awesome little dude who is going to conquer a lot in his life.

Mile 19

Christian Vazquez, a ten year old Belleville, Illinois Blues fan who is battling a brain tumor. Another awesome kid who is full of love and life.

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Mile 20

Bill Cannon, an 87-year-old man I met this summer who lived like he was 17. He passed away recently, but I know he had no regrets. With 3,000 medals, one of which he gave to me, he was full of life. Someone to truly look up to.

Mile 21

Ellie Cunningham, an amazing Kansas City-area teen who was bullied while battling kidney cancer last year. Don’t worry, the bully was caught, Ellie got an amazing Valentine’s Day gift from hundreds of friends, and she continues to inspire me with her courage.

Mile 22

Jack Nicholson, no not THAT ‘Jack Nicholson,’ but my friend who I met in Burbank while going to First Christian Church of Burbank. Jack was an amazing spirit who truly emitted love for everyone. Talking to him for 10 minutes and you felt like you were friends for life. Jack wasn’t just a pastor, theater director, and entrepreneur, but an amazing friend.

Mile 23

Neil Graham, another great friend of mine from Arthur, Illinois who passed away last year. I remember her writing a recommendation letter for me for college. I also remember her riding in the back seat with me joking if we were ‘going to get fresh.’ She was funny. She was loving. She was one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. And she too was courageous. I’m so thankful my wife got to meet her before she passed.

Mile 24

Keith and Mary Ann Hillyard, if not for them I wouldn’t be where I am today. Great friends and mentors from Arthur who helped me follow my dreams.

Mile 25

Julia, our niece. We hope to be a good example for her, even if that means spoiling her from time to time. 🙂

Mile 26

Johanna, my wife, who isn’t just the love of my life, but is my ultimate supporter. Thank you for everything, including finding my passion for running again. I’ll be thinking of you when I need it most.

Mile 26.2

Everyone who has ever believed in me
 
If you actually read this entire post, I’m beyond impressed.  Mainly because that also means you likely didn’t ‘unfollow’ me on Facebook following the barrage of running posts these last several months. Most importantly, thank you to everyone who contributed to my fundraiser. Know that your donations are helping to save lives.
Let’s do this!

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