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Happy Father’s Day, Joe

An Incredible Father-Daughter Duo Bond Over Training for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & ½ Marathon

Fathers often serve as inspiration to their children and lead by example. In turn, a daughter can be a forceful inspiration herself. Combined powers – especially in the case of Kathy Morgan and her father, Joe – spawn an unbreakable bond and an incredible dynamic fueled by love, respect, commitment and encouragement. And one very important element that has strengthened their relationship, forced their hand in dealing with grief, and tested their ambitions is their commitment to training for the 2020 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus ½ Marathon.

Kathy, a central Ohio middle school PE and health teacher, describes herself as an outgoing wanderlust who lives for the next best adventure. She’s driven by lofty goals, perhaps a trait she snagged from her father.

Joe Morgan, a 70-year-old retired electrician, spends his days fishing, biking, and learning to play the guitar. He loves spending time with his children and grandchildren and taking up any activity that keeps him active and feeling young.

Long-distance running came into play for Kathy and Joe in 2007 – the first year they both participated in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & ½ Marathon.

“I wanted to try to do something that many only dream about,” said Kathy.

Signing up for a race forced Kathy to accomplish what she thought was an impossible dream. Her likeminded dad decided that he was up for the challenge, as well.

Kathy and Joe registered for the full marathon, not ever having run one before. During training, Kathy unfortunately suffered an injury, yet finished the half marathon, nonetheless. Joe went on to finish his first full marathon. “It was truly an adventure,” said Kathy. “We both caught the running bug and have been running ever since.”

The duo has participated in the Columbus marathon since then, taking just two years off since 2007. It is the years of training-induced togetherness that has done much more than prepare them for a single day’s race.

“My dad is my best friend; there is no doubt about that,” said Kathy. And as best friends would, they adapted to obstacles and got each other through very difficult times.

In 2017, Joe was told by his doctor that he would need knee replacements if he were to keep running long distances. So, Joe turned to walking. And so did Kathy. Together, they have walked three half marathons and one full marathon.

Before the change in pace, Kathy said, “We would start many races together but during the race we would split ways. It wasn’t until we started walking when we started and finished an entire race together.”

The last two months have been especially challenging for Kathy and Joe. Joe’s wife of 50 years, and Kathy’s beloved mother, lost her battle with renal cancer.

Walking together was more important now than ever before. It provided a sense of healing. It became a necessity in terms of emotional – not physical – growth. “Walking together allowed us to talk about some really difficult things even before my Mother went to heaven, but our walks have been part of our healing journey. Sometimes we talk and other times we just walk beside each other thinking.”

Since the passing of Kathy’s mother in April, she and Joe walk together 3-4 times per week despite the hour-and-a-half drive it takes for Kathy to get to Joe’s house. The days she doesn’t make the drive, they call each other to hold each other accountable.

The two have a lot of time planned this summer to increase their daily mileage in preparation for the half marathon in October – a priority to Kathy. She said, “These walks always fill my heart with unconditional love. Every single mile we get closer. Now we have an angel in heaven cheering us on.”

Kathy is anticipating the 2020 half marathon to be “extra special” with an emotional finish line.

“I am beyond blessed that I can support my dad. After all, he has been supporting me his whole life,” she said. “Our bond is very special. I know one day this will be my favorite memory of us. I have the marathon to thank for that.”

On behalf of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & ½ Marathon, Happy Father’s Day, Joe. Thank you for participating in our races. We hope walking can continue to foster the unbreakable bond you share with Kathy. We look forward to seeing you in October.

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