WHY I RUN | Keep Moving Forward

Kirk Steen Gift of Life Run / Walk 2018

Kirk Steen Gift of Life Run / Walk 2018

By Catherine Lykins

Every year since 2014, on the day of the Boston Marathon, runners and walkers from all over the world take time to run or walk, logging their miles on the Kirk Steen, Boston Facebook page.

Kirk became an avid runner in his 40s, completed 14 marathons, and finally qualified to run the Boston Marathon with a PR at the Grand Rapids Marathon in October of 2013. Running Boston was a dream Kirk had been chasing for several years, and his friends, family and running community were all ready to cheer him on.

Unfortunately, Kirk’s heart stopped beating just 3 weeks before his Boston Marathon. He experienced a form of hypertrophic cariomyopathy, or in simple terms, his heart had a muscle spasm. This is most common in endurance athletes, is rare, and is almost impossible to anticipate. The loss of this hard working, humble, kind, talented human being was unexpected and so very sad. Kirk was 54 years old.

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The week of his passing, several extraordinary things happened. Kirk was an organ donor, and due to his marathon training health, his body was able to help 150 people. An average donor can help 8 people. Kirk's passing was a blessing to 150 other families! The Steen family was informed immediately that Kirks heart valves went to help children, and each of his kidneys saved a life.

At the time the donation process was beginning, a full rainbow appeared in the sky. People all over town saw the rainbow and began sending pictures to Kirk’s wife and children.

The same day, a runner friend of Kirk’s arrived at the Steen home with a very special gift. Through a contact of hers, the Boston Athletic Association awarded Kirk his finisher medal. The B.A.A. hand wrote a personal note of sympathy saying that although they wished they were awarding the medal in person, it was an honor to award the first medal of the 2014 Boston Marathon to Kirk.

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Kirk’s story is reminder to keep moving forward. He trained and worked through many obstacles before finally qualifying for Boston. His family and friends feel it is important to honor his goal, pay it forward and never give up.

So every year since 2014, on the day of the Boston Marathon, runners and walkers from all over the world take time to run or walk and log their miles on the Kirk Steen, Boston Facebook page.

Harsh conditions didn't stop loved ones from honoring Kirk in 2018

Harsh conditions didn't stop loved ones from honoring Kirk in 2018

In 2014 the ‘Kirk Steen, Boston’ event was put in place with the idea to run miles for Kirk. Now, the mileage is logged to raise awareness for the organ donation organization Gift of Life, and continues with the hope that people take time one day a year to walk or run while thinking about their loved ones.

Please join us each April on the day of the Boston Marathon with a walk or a run, and log your miles on the Kirk Steen, Boston facebook page.

Brent McDermott