Run Daddy Run

I decided to put a purpose behind the first four marathons I ran. I chose a daughter for each and focused on that one during my long training runs and even on race day. I called them prayerathons – but not out-loud because that sounds really cheesy and cliché.

To take things a step further, I asked each one of them to draw a picture for me to have printed on the back of my race shirt and I gave them the race medal.

Here are the first three:

All are very special, but the final one has become incredibly dear to me. Kylie was six when it was her turn. The Birmingham Marathon was nine days before her seventh birthday and she decided to draw penguins for me since they were her favorite animal. As I have mentioned in the past, she was very meticulous about her drawing and the slightest mistake would require a redo. She threw out many subpar penguins in her quest for perfection.

Finally she came up with this:



When she gave it to me, she explained with a kiss on the nose that I was to “Run, daddy, run. Then waddle home to me.”

That became my purpose for the race and I did just that. I ran one of my best times, and anyone who has run a marathon can attest, waddling is what you do afterwards.

* * * * *

I’ve thought about that a lot since her death.

What is my purpose?

What do I want to do now?

What race have I been entered into because of cancer? That entry fee was astronomically high.

At some point it dawned on me that she set my life’s course those many years ago. Her drawing wasn’t merely about that marathon, it is about the current race of life I’m running.

Like any marathon, I just have a run my best to the finish line and then waddle home to her.

I run by telling her story.

I run by showing others how they can have joy during any storm.

I run by preaching the need for safer and more effective cures for childhood cancer.

I run by sharing the Jesus that Kylie knew and the faith she wouldn’t relinquish even until she saw his face.

I run that way until that day when my time in this world is done and I waddle home to her.

And when I get weary, I stop at a water station to refresh myself before finding the strength to set out once more. There is no retirement in this race. I may be at mile 14 right now or mile 25 – I have no way of knowing. I do know that this is my course, set forth by the strongest person I ever knew when she was but six years-old.

I run…



…then waddle home to her.

37 thoughts on “Run Daddy Run

      1. Wheeee! Excited for you all! All are welcome to our fine country! And if she wants to meet one of her “Daddy fans” – all ARE welcome!! (if I was her – that would freak me out – a lot!)


  1. Another thought-provoking post, Mark. Thanks for sharing. I went to use my Emilie’s phone last night, and came to find out her new passcode is Kylie123. If I can one day go home, having touched just a fraction of the lives that she did, I’ll be smiling all the way.

  2. This was a beautiful entry today. Thank you so much for sharing. Since losing our son we feel the same as you. What is our purpose? What can we do? We do the same – spreading the word, raising funds for research. It’s hard sometimes but we keep on keepin’ on.

  3. That is just precious Mark, love that you tattooed that memory and reminder on your arm. The more I learn of Kylie through your posts, the more amazed I am at her grace and wisdom for someone so young. Thanks for sharing this sweet memory.

    1. Jill, I don’t exaggerate, she was amazing. Wise beyond her years and so compassionate. We lost a kid who really had a future and could have made this world a better place.

  4. wow that is incredible and so so sweet! God has not set you on an easy race but I pray that the water stations are plentiful and refreshing, that He will be with you always!

  5. Mark, I love your blog. There are times, I read, then come back later to comment. This was one of those times! Starting the blog with the beautiful picture of you holding Kylie, her little hand around your neck, both of you with the same beautiful smiles, was a touching way to begin this blog. Your love for all your girls is so special and is reflected in the pictures, they all drew! You are the Dad with such deep love for your family who also has experienced heart wrenching loss with Kylie’s death. RUN MARK RUN and help all of us continue to make the difference in the world of Pediatric Cancer. Thank you for how your blog continues to touch my heart!

  6. she was wise beyond her years. isn’t it amazing how children, with their uninhibited and open view of the world, teach us so much more than we can ever teach them? i think most people think it’s the other way around, but they hold all the lessons we are meant to learn within them. it’s their gift to us. beautiful, mark.

  7. Your stories of Kylie always cause me to reflect. Some days I can hear Kelly. Today I do. I thought I was raising her. When she had been raising me all alone,still is. Great reflections Mark. Thanks buddy for sharing them.

    Much love Tom

  8. I hate that you had to lose Kylie to find your bigger purpose in life, but what a worthy purpose that is. Beautiful penguins! Love the yellow hats on them and love learning about her beautiful spirit.

  9. I’ve always believed that when one gets a tattoo it should be something that they will treasure – it means something – for as long as they live. This one is beyond perfect! Wonderful story as always and hugs hugs hugs to you.

  10. When my David’s dad passed away I thought “we’ll miss him but he was 84 and had a long life.” Then I think of you and Robin and your girls and so many others. I try for a few moments to step into your shoes and I fall a part. I’m sorry for your…there aren’t words to describe loss. Thank you for this blog and how you honor Kylie with your broken hearted courage and how you honor her by standing in the gap for other children battling cancer. You’ve got me thinking about another running another marathon. Blessings to you and your family.

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