“If my sister can do it, anybody can do it!” David Shaw says, jokingly. In 2015, David Shaw’s sister, Kiley Taylor, ran the Lincoln Half-Marathon with the Project Purple team in honor of their mother, Patti Shaw. Kiley shared her story with me last year and admitted that she had not started out as a particularly athletic person. However, through pure will and determination, she trained for and completed the Lincoln Half-Marathon. At the time, she tried to recruit David to join her, but he declined. He promised his sister, however, that if she finished the race in 2015, he would run it with her in 2016. Now he is training to run with the Project Purple team in order to keep his promise to Kiley, and honor their mother.
David explains why he did not want to run the half-marathon in 2015 by simply saying, “I hate running. I mean, I despise it.” Though he laughs as he says it, it is clear that he is not entirely kidding. David played many sports while growing up, including football, baseball and basketball but he never liked running. He found inspiration to train to run a half-marathon as he watched his sister’s dedication to running with Project Purple in 2015. Though they fought like cats and dogs while growing up, David and Kiley grew close as they grew into adulthood. Once they each had moved out of their parents’ home and found their own way in life, they became friends. When their mom learned that she was sick, their bond deepened and they grew to rely on one another.
In April 2014, after a period of illness, Kiley and David’s mom was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. At first, she did not want to do chemotherapy, but her family convinced her to at least give treatment a try. David remembers, “The first day of chemotherapy was the worst for her, but she kept a smile on her face.” Throughout her months of treatment, Patti had good days and bad days. She tried to remain positive and relied heavily on her inherent sense of humor to boost her and her family’s spirits. Finally, one day, she broke down crying. David could never recall seeing his mother cry before. Patti told him, “I will never see the children or grandchildren you may have.” David encouraged his mom to focus on the daily fight instead of thinking about what may lie ahead. “She found humor, even when things were bleak and she was always there for us. She instilled in me the belief that no matter what you are going through, someone may be going through something worse.” At the time of his mother’s diagnosis, he lived in Kansas. Kiley spent a great deal of time and energy being a caregiver for their mom. When David saw how stressful it was for Kiley, who had a family of her own, David made the decision to leave his job and return to Omaha so he could help with his mother’s care. Patti fought for five months, passing away in October, 2015.
David remembers the fun and playful relationship he had with his mom. Her favorite movie was “The Wizard of Oz”, and he referred to his mother as ‘the Wicked Witch of the Midwest’. He even went so far as to have her paged at work by that title. On his wedding day, in a surprising and touching moment, he chose the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” for his dance with his mom.
After Patti passed away, David drew inspiration from watching his sister train for the Lincoln Half-Marathon. She had signed on to run with the Project Purple team as a way to honor their mother. Kiley had to overcome some health issues of her own just to get to the starting line and David was impressed by her tenacity and dedication. He agreed to sign up to run with her this year, and now they plan on finishing the race together.
Even though David ‘hates’ running, he has found comfort in it as he has trained for Lincoln. “I have come to find it difficult to look back on the last few years, and the running helps me to cope. Running helps me to take my mind off of everything. Mostly this is in remembrance of my mom. It is all for her.”
David is looking forward to finishing the race in the Nebraska Husker Football Stadium. Patti was an avid Husker fan. Towards the end of her treatment, they were able to attend a game where she met several of the players and band members. As he thinks back to how happy his mother was on that day, he knows that their race finish will be a very emotional one. Patti will be there in Husker Stadium with David and Kiley in spirit.
David has gotten his long run up to 6.5 miles so far and he knows that he will be able to finish the race. “I think first and foremost about mom when I am training and how much she would appreciate how much we have done in her honor the past couple of years. Knowing there is a bigger goal out there is keeping me focused.”
Please make a tax-deductible donation to David’s Project Purple Lincoln Half-Marathon fundraiser here:
You can read more about Kiley’s story here: