There seems to be a race or marathon in Kansas City every weekend representing every type of cause. It’s hard to narrow them down until you find one that hits close to home.
You may have seen the signs around the office for the Father’s Day 5k, but you may not know the story behind it. Global Connections employee Katy Gray, who works with GSI Sports, is a strong supporter of the event, as are many of us around the office. It was created in honor of her husband.
Four years ago, Kevin Gray passed away from adult sarcoma, a rare cancer that affects bone or muscle tissue. It happened suddenly, for what started as a sore hip took his life in just six short weeks.
Having been president of the Greater Kansas City Sports Commission and Foundation, Kevin had strong connections in the sports and soccer community around the area. Friends in the commission decided to create a fundraiser to help his family and for cancer research, and the Kevin Gray Father’s Day 5K was born.
“They were just trying to do something in Kevin’s name,” Katy said. “Sporting Park was fabulous in reaching out and letting us have their stadium.”
The race, which takes place near Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas, has two goals: Help Katy and Kevin’s daughters get through college and to raise money for the University of Kansas Cancer Center.
Katy loves what the KU Cancer Center is doing with its research, becoming one of the leading facilities in the nation in that field. And though little is known about sarcoma, she would at least like to help extend the lives of the people who have it, if not, find a cure.
This is the fourth year of the race, and it has raised $40,000 to $50,000 for the center.
“If people knew everything they were doing and how it’s becoming one of the go-to cancer centers in the country, they would want to do something for them,” Katy said.
But Katy also admits the race has done wonders for her four daughters, as well. One just graduated high school, one is at KU, another just graduated from college and the oldest daughter is about to get married. And even though their father isn’t around, he’s still finding ways to be a part of their lives.
“He loved his daughters dearly,” Katy said. “He was into Father’s Day and we thought having the race was a good way to remember him. It has helped me tremendously get these kids through college.”
Kevin and the sports commission did so much for Kansas City sports and they are the reason why much of it is flourishing today, from the Sprint Center holding on to the Big 12 Basketball Tournament to the presence of Sporting Kansas City. It’s no surprise that Sporting Park is opening its doors for the event, though it’s one memory Katy was never able to share with her husband.
When Kevin was diagnosed with sarcoma, his condition deteriorated quickly and he was unable to get around much.
“Before Kevin died, Sporting Park was just opening and we kept trying to take a ride out there,” she said. “If he would have seen it, it would have been unreal.
The Father’s Day Run is Saturday, June 20. If you would like more information or to register, visit the race page on the Kansas City Sports Commission website.