Virgen: Team Jake keeps on running

Ten years ago, Steven Robert ran in the OC Marathon to raise money for his 4-year-old son Jake, who had Cerebral Palsy. During the final portion of the race, Steven scooped up his son and carried him into the finish line.

Later that night, little Jake died in his sleep. But Jake's legacy has lived on through Team Jake, a charity that raises money for children with special needs. Team Jake celebrated its 10th anniversary at the US Bank OC Marathon this past weekend.


The joyous and somber tears began to flow on Thursday night when Steve and his wife Alison were inducted into the inaugural OC Marathon Hall of Fame, also known as Making Waves Award recipients.

The Hall of Fame class also featured the late Bill Scarff, a strong supporter of the OC Marathon, and the event's co-founder and original board chair Scott Baugh.


It was an emotional moment when Steve thanked many while receiving the honor Thursday night at the Newport Beach Marriott.

He stood with his wife, as they laughed about past memories and wiped away tears because of the loss of their son. They remain grateful to have touched many lives through Team Jake.

Bonner Paddock was one of those. And he's also made a difference for many through the One Mission Foundation.

Paddock, who has CP, was also running in that marathon 10 years ago to support kids with disabilities. That's where he met Steve. OM Foundation is a charity partner for Team Jake.

Paddock, who has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and completed triathlons, ran the marathon on Sunday. He said he expected it to be a fun day when he spoke with me on Thursday.

"It's not a tough day, it's actually a celebration day," Paddock said of the OC Marathon. "We sometimes cry out on the course and we're joking and laughing. Some races are tough ones emotionally with many tears at the finish line. But this one is different."

There were many reasons to be happy on Sunday. OM Foundation raised $38,556 at the OC Marathon, said OM Foundation Director Wendy Grover.

There were two records broken in the race, in the women's marathon (Lenore Moreno, 2 hours, 37 minutes, 43 seconds) and the men's half-marathon (Daniel Teklebrahan, 1:05:29). There was also significant money raised for charity.

The event's Charity Partner Program raised $500,000, which more than doubled the funds raised last year.

Each runner of a charity had a story of their own, each stride made with great purpose.

Last year, Kelli Heald of Newport Beach lost her husband Tres to Amyloidosis, a rare incurable disease that results from the buildup of misfolded proteins known as amyloids.

They have two children.

At the OC Marathon, a group ran the half-marathon to raise money in his honor and the Amyloidosis Foundation. They've raised close to $11,000, according to the cause's page on the Crowdrise website.

Tres' co-workers Kevin Hauri and Terry Loughran ran the half-marathon. Eric Heald, Tres' brother, was so touched by their efforts that he also ran.

"It was awesome," Kelli Heald said of the weekend. "It's pretty exciting for us. Recently the Amyloidosis Foundation gave money to my husband's doctor for more research. It's exciting for us to see that the money is going to research."