Kate Solomon has served as the Manager of Community Affairs and Public Relations for the ALS Association of Texas since March 2015. Prior to joining the Chapter as a staff member, Kate volunteered for six years, helping with The Woodlands and Greater Houston Walks to Defeat ALS and the Chevron Houston Marathon. She ran in the Houston Marathon in 2011, 2014, and 2015 in memory of her dad. Read her story below.
For many years now, running has been an important part of my life. ‘Coordinated’ is not a word people would use to describe me, so a sport that simply required me to put one foot in front of the other seemed like the perfect fit for me!
As a teenager, I remember running the neighborhood 2-mile loop with my dad. He was in his fifties at the time, but that didn’t stop him from almost daily challenges with me for the best split time. Full disclosure, most of the time he won.
My dad was not your typical athlete but he was a committed and avid runner. He was training for his first half marathon in 2008 when he started noticing that physical exercise was becoming more and more challenging. He started tripping and falling and had a progressively more difficult time recovering from long runs. He started visiting doctors, and by August 2008, we had an answer to eight months’ worth of questions and uncertainty. My dad had ALS.
Running had always been one of the things my dad and I did together. Through the course of his diagnosis, I watched as his physical body betrayed him in every way. By March 2009, he was confined to a wheelchair full time but that didn’t stop him from riding alongside me as we traveled our beloved 2-mile loop. Our runs might have looked different, but they were still something we did together.
On November 10, 2009 my dad lost his short 15-month battle with ALS. To say that was a difficult time in my life would be an understatement. As one of his primary caregivers over the previous year, we had grown incredibly close, and I didn’t know what I was going to do without him. One thing I knew I could do, and had to do, was to continue to put one foot in front of the other. I had to keep going. I had to run.
I carried on my dad’s legacy by training for my first half marathon in 2011. I participated in the Houston Marathon on behalf of the ALS Association of Texas. This race wasn’t just for my dad. It was for all of the patients and families that we’d met over the past few years. I was running for them. I was running for a cure!
Since 2011, I have completed three more half marathons and will continue to train and run each year in honor and memory of our patients and families. I hope for a world without ALS, and I won’t stop living a life of hope (and remembrance) until that day comes.
If you’re interested in participating in the Chevron Houston Marathon on behalf of the ALS Association of Texas, visit alstexas.org/houstonmarathon.