BOSTON — As Troy native Tim McDaniel lines up to start the Boston Marathon, he’ll be taking in the sights and sounds of the world’s oldest marathon. He’ll also be thinking about the family members to whom he’s dedicating his first Boston Marathon.
Last April, McDaniel ran the fastest marathon of his life at the age of 55 — beating his personal best by 13 minutes and finishing 10 minutes under the Boston Marathon qualifying time. When he signed into Facebook to share the achievement with friends and family, he instead was confronted with the news from his niece, Heather Monroe, that her husband, Jeremy, had been in a serious motorcycle accident.
Jeremy had been riding his motorcycle near Piqua when a car pulled out in front of him, McDaniel said. He was taken by CareFlight to the hospital with severe injuries to his head and pelvis and was in a coma.
At the hospital, the bad news kept coming: an MRI discovered that Jeremy had Stage 3 brain cancer.
“It was kind of a huge double whammy,” McDaniel said.
McDaniel has dedicated his first Boston Marathon to Jeremy and to helping raise funds for his rehabilitation and care. He started a GoFundMe account to raise money for home modifications to the Monroe’s house, as well as un-reimbursed medical and home healthcare expenses. The goal is to raise $26,200 — for the 26.2 miles in a marathon. So far, the page has raised about $3,000.
“At Christmastime, I was talking to Heather about some of the finances; by that time she had gone back to work. She was hiring workers to be there while she was at school teaching and that’s an un-reimbursed expense,” McDaniel said.
The Monroes were also paying for private medical transport for Jeremy’s appointments, which cost about $1,000 apiece and are not covered by insurance.
“With the social funding now, you can get people excited and interested in helping out on things. So I thought, with the running community, that’s one way that I can advertise,” he said.
“It really means a lot,” Heather said of McDaniel’s efforts to help raise funds for the family. “We have had such a tremendous amount of support from people from our local churches and family and even strangers. It’s been humbling and overwhelming at times.”
Heather, an intervention specialist at Piqua High School, said asking for financial support feels awkward, but there are many expenses that the family’s insurance won’t cover.
“There are all of those hidden expenses that aren’t covered,” she said. “It’s the little things that don’t seem like much at the time, but they add up.”
Last summer, Jeremy had recovered enough from his accident to have the tumor removed, followed by radiation and chemotherapy. His cancer is now in remission, but he may never be able to live without constant supervision, McDaniel said. He previously worked in the Huber Heights City Schools district as a teacher and administrator.
Jeremy has been in and out of care facilities for months. He was home for a few weeks earlier this year, before he fell and broke his hip.
“He is in good spirits and trying again to learn to walk,” McDaniel said.
McDaniel also wants to remind people to watch out for motorcyclists when they’re driving, adding that there have been several other accidents involving motorcycles in Miami County in recent years.
“Jeremy was injured last year because the driver did not see him on a motorcycle and Jeremy t-boned the car,” he said.
McDaniel first took up running about the time he turned 40 because he wanted to start a healthy habit. He eventually started training for marathons.
“I kind of fell into running through the Miami County YMCA back then,” he said. “I’ve been active in the Dayton area running community since then.”
He took a break from road marathons for a while in favor of trail running and shorter races. A few years ago, he started helping his daughter’s father-in-law train for the Chicago marathon.
“That got me training. I felt really good,” he said. “I thought, ‘You know, maybe I’ll try again.’”
He spent the winter of 2016 training to qualify for the Boston Marathon ahead of a marathon in Xenia in April 2017 — the day he finished under the Boston qualifying time and the day of Jeremy’s life-changing accident.
When McDaniel is running, he doesn’t listen to music, but spends the race enjoying the scenery and being alone with his thoughts.
“I just kind of look and see what’s around me. Sometimes I’m thinking about the race, sometimes I’m thinking about all kinds of ideas,” he said. “As you get farther in the race, definitely it becomes more about, ‘Gotta finish, keep my form.’ Those kinds of things. But the first part of the race is just a lot of fun.”
As he starts his run in Boston, McDaniel expects he’ll be enjoying the atmosphere of the event and enjoying the knowledge that he’s sharing the course with so many professional runners.
“Some of the top men and women in the world will be running the race. There’s probably no other sport that an amateur can be on the same course on the same day within minutes of the top people in the world,” he said.
He’s also been getting advice from other local runners who have run the Boston Marathon before. They’ve advised him to pace himself at the beginning and not to worry too much about the weather report.
“It’s a place of so much history and excitement to be there for the first time. I’m gonna have a ball. I’m going to run hard, but I’m going to look around and enjoy the sights and feel the excitement,” he said.
Reach Cecilia Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org.