Married to her high school sweetheart for the past 11 years, Kathy is a mother to two wildly active little boys, a 6-year-old named Travis and a 4-year-old named Emmett. An avid distance runner for over 10 years, Kathy has recently taken her distance running to the next level by competing in ultra-marathon races. Kathy holds running close to her heart because it has given her hope even in her darkest moments, when she thought her son may not live to see another day.
She RULES because:
She rules because she never stops running. When Kathy first heard of Fellow Flowers, she had been running for over FIVE hours on a treadmill. At that point, she was in a very dark place, struggling to continue running as opposed to fall to the floor and barrel over in tears. Her husband, who was with her in that tiny gym on the 10th floor of the children’s hospital, knew she was struggling. He got his phone out and turned to Facebook to distract her. Little did they know, in the midst of their crisis, their son Emmett’s story had made its way around the virtual world. Her husband started reading post after post, hundreds of them, with pictures, prayers and encouragement. One of those posts was from a group of women wearing flowers in their hair and they so eloquently spoke about being fiercely united.
“I remember just crying when I saw the picture. I didn’t understand what the flowers were for or what they meant, but they said it was for Emmett and from that day forward I felt a special connection to Fellow Flowers and knew I belonged in this community. These women I didn’t even know were there for me when I needed it most; you just don’t ever forget that.”
She ROCKS because:
She rocks because she runs against the odds. On June 20, 2012, Kathy ran exactly 7 hours and 26 minutes on a treadmill in the children’s hospital, which was officially dubbed Emmett’s Endurance Event. Her 15-month-old son, Emmett, was having his entire skull broken apart and put back together due to an undiagnosed birth defect. It would be the first of five surgeries he’s had to date.
“I couldn’t stand the thought of sitting in a waiting room…waiting to hear whether he would live to see another day. So I decided instead to run the entire time he was in surgery, no matter how long it took.”
Kathy made it a virtual event so people could join her in spirit, to raise awareness of Craniosynostosis. She assumed it would mostly be her loved ones but she had no idea how many others would be touched by her story. On race day over 1,000 people from 45 states and 13 countries participated in the run and even Runner’s World Magazine took notice featuring her story.
For the last two years, Kathy has kept Emmett’s Endurance Event going and runs 7 hours and 26 minutes on a treadmill to continue to raise awareness and raise money for charities that give back to families facing similar battles.
A year ago Kathy became involved with Heart Strides, a charity that gives free running shoes to mothers of critically ill or special needs children, knowing that they often don’t spend money or time on themselves (Heart Strides is one of three causes the SHE Rocks Virtual Run participants help support simply by registering).
“Running is a gift and mothers of medically complex children can benefit immensely from that gift. When I saw Heart Stride’s Facebook post, it spoke to me and I knew I had to get involved.”
“Mothers are good at guilt, healthy children or not, but when your child is sick or suffering, the guilt can suffocate you even though it has no right to. For a pair of running shoes, $100 seems completely ridiculous and selfish, not to mention the time you’d spend away from your child running or walking if you did get them. These mothers need to take care of themselves so they can better take care of their children. Heart Strides serves to empowers these moms and helps them keep moving forward during challenging times,” said Denise Dollar, Founder of Heart Strides.
Kathy has run numerous ultras in the past three years since her son Emmett was diagnosed. It’s when she is the most exhausted, most desperate to stop and sure she can’t take another step that she feels the most alive.. she can’t not run. She has to. It’s in her blood and it fuels her and helps her overcome even life’s hardest trials.
Just two months ago, she ran 100 miles in under 24 hours for the first time, which was a big goal (and a huge PR)! She is currently training for another 100-mile race this fall and is working on big plans for Emmett’s Endurance Event this June. Kathy is also in the process of writing her first book this year.
“It’s been a long, scary process but if just one person reads it and is given a sense of comfort and hope, then it will be worth it.”
She used to run because she truly enjoyed it but after experiencing multiple miscarriages before Emmett she learned that running helped heal her broken heart. Then Emmet began racking up a slew of diagnoses’ and her entire world changed; that’s when she found her true purpose and reason for running.
She runs because running is a huge part of healing and acceptance for her. She ran and cried, screamed, prayed and begged to trade places with her son. Running was the one thing that didn’t render her a useless bystander. She continues to run because it makes her feel brave and strong, for Emmett.
Kathy is running the SHE Rocks Virtual Run because, “I love what the race stands for and I love that it is about empowering other women. To top it off, I am proud to run a race that is giving back to three awesome, very deserving charities that center around strong women uniting and overcoming major life trials and tribulations.”
She is running this race in honor of her friend Randi. Randi’s son, Brextin, passed away from epilepsy three days before Mother’s Day five years ago, just a week short of his third birthday. Kathy notes that Randi is strong even in her pain and is loving and compassionate of others even though she’s lived through the worst thing imaginable.
“SHE is a woman that continues to rock through and through and it’s only fitting that I run this race in honor of her and Brextin.”
What challenges has running helped you overcome in life? Why are you running the SHE Rocks Virtual Run on 5/10/15? Share your story in the comments!