Tyler was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia on Feb. 4, 2013, the anniversary of the opening of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He underwent more than two years of treatment at St. Jude and today the 8th grader is happy, healthy and active with his school’s track and soccer teams. His mom, Michelle, describes her 13-year-old, youngest child as being laid back, inquisitive, determined and, above all else, compassionate, as seen in his desire to run his first half marathon as a St. Jude Hero, giving back to the place that saved his life.
I’ve only been running for a year but I really enjoy it, and after running in a 10k last year I decided I wanted to run the half-marathon at the next St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend.
Before the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing, I was working with my track team coaches and running with my friend Tommy, who finished the 10k with me last year and is going to run the half with me this year.
I did a lot of interval training and learned how to rest my heart rate to get the most from my runs. As a cancer patient, my bones got much weaker from treatment and I didn’t know if I’d be able to do it. But I kept pushing myself to get stronger and stronger, and had in my mind that I could do this. I just kept training and pushing myself, knowing I can do it.
Now, because of social distancing, I train on my own. I’m doing cross-training – runs, walks and strength-training. I still check in virtually with my coaches and they’re there to help when I need them. And I’m running more with my dad now. My mom said she’s going to finish the 10K and be waiting for me as I cross the finish line.
Sometimes the training is really difficult, so when I run I think about my friends who have passed away. My good friend Arianna, and my buddy Gage. I think about them and I am doing this for them. I miss them every day and I will carry them with me.
I stay motivated and I’m inspired by my friends and by the reason I’m running. For anyone else training to run as a St. Jude Hero, they need to think about why they are running the race. We raise a lot of money for St. Jude, the place that I love, and I want to do what I can so no other child dies.
As a St. Jude patient, I saw what people were doing to help the place that saved my life and I wanted to help, too. I want to do my part. But I also wanted to show everyone that even if you have cancer or another illness, you can still do what you want to do.
This virus will pass, we will beat it, and when we are past it you want to have your mind and body healthy. You don’t want to start over. I keep going because I know we will beat this and I will run my race in December.