Eric Bacys isn’t the kind of guy you’d expect to be running a marathon.
"I’m a big guy. Not super big, but still, I haven’t really exercised regularly since college," he laughs. Still, on June 4, the 35-year-old Lockport resident will run 26.2 miles with about 20,000 others in the San Diego Marathon.
But for Bacys, it’s not about the exercise. It’s about the cause. He’s a dad running for his 5-year-old daughter, Katelyn, as part of the American Heart Association’s program, Train to End Stroke.
"I’ve seen what a tough time Katelyn’s had and I figure she’s going to have to deal with this her whole life," he says.
Katelyn had a stroke in utero. Yet, doctors didn’t know. In fact, they gave her a clean bill of health. But at 3 months, her parents noticed Katelyn’s right hand was blue each morning—she was clenching it all night.
It took three more months for the tests and the doctors to diagnose the stroke.
"We were in shock," says Bacys. "We never really thought kids or babies could even have strokes."
With a rigorous course of speech, occupational and physical therapy, the only lasting effect Kateyn has is a slight weakness on her right side.
"She’s doing pretty well these days," says Bacys. "She’s in preschool, she does karate, she’s taking tennis lessons. If you didn’t know what she’s gone through you’d think she was a normal kid."
Since beginning training in January, Bacys runs by himself about 5 miles every other day and with an Orland Park-based Train to End Stroke group on weekends.
Those who know him are "surprised that I’m doing it since exercise isn’t exactly one of my top ten activities of choice!" But he is raising money for pediatric stroke research. He has already surpassed his goal of $5,000 and has raised more than $7,000.
"I can deal with training for six months and running 26.2 miles if it’ll make things any easier, for her and for other kids."
To make a donation to Bacys, visit www.sandiego.kintera.org/chicagoteam/bacyschicago.
For information on Train to End Stroke, visit the American Stroke Association at www.strokeassociation.org.
Farah Mohd Alkaf