|Manny, Kevin, and Rod|
|Miller 64 Promo Poster|
Headquarters was Brian O’Neill’s Restaurant & Pub in Rice Village. Water for the event was donated by EvaMor Water.
93Q and EvaMor set up tents next to the restaurant for the starting line and rest station for Kevin and the other runners.
|Kevin Getting Ready|
|64 Miles To Go|
John Breland with 93Q’s sales office coordinated the day and was supported by the radio station’s marketing staff. Great group. Kevin does a lot of these ultra-marathons and John and team know how to back him up. The station also did their afternoon broadcast from the restaurant.
MillerCoors Houston Distributing was out in force to promote Miller 64 and support the event, as did the other restaurants and clubs along Morningside Street in Rice Village. It turned into a big block party.
Kevin’s best support, though, was his wife Trish. She is the queen of aid station support. Throughout the day and into the night Trish made sure Kevin had water, Gatorade, food or a dry shirt when he needed it. Other friends from their running clubs also hung with them for much of the event.
Kevin would stop after each lap and rehydrate and down rice, potatoes, or other body fuel to keep him going. Other runners came and went, running some laps and left, while other hung with Kevin for almost the entire run.
The run went from 10 a.m. Thursday morning until nearly 1 a.m. Friday morning. Kevin never stopped for more than a few minutes before heading out for the next lap. The only time he stopped for a longer period was when some special guests arrived.
We flew four wounded warriors and their escort from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C. to Houston on Thursday to attend the Msgt. Gonzales Memorial Fishing Tournament the next day (more on that later). Kevin asked if he would get a chance to meet them.
The guys arrived around 4 p.m. By then Kevin had run approximately 30 miles. We took them into the restaurant for an early dinner and to rest before heading down to Sargent, Texas for fishing.
The warriors were a little in awe to fly in and immediately be dropped in the middle of a large group of enthusiastic supporters. They were unaware of what was going on outside. I explained what was happening and that Kevin was doing this to show support for them. It made a huge impression, but not as much as when Kevin came through the door -- sweating and winded but excited to get to meet them.
They thanked him for what he was doing and he, in turn, thanked them for their service and sacrifice. A lot of mutual admiration going on at that moment.
Pictures were taken and Kevin headed back out for his next lap. The warriors’ eyes lit up when the Miller Girls joined them for a picture. The warriors loaded back on our weathered, wheelchair-accessible bus (we could use a new one by the way) and headed down to Sargent for the fishing tournament Friday and Saturday.
After lap eleven (44 miles), the strain and fatigue started showing on Kevin when he would come in from a lap. Not much we could do but offer encouragement and cheer him on. I thought it was a good time to tell him about how much it had meant to the soldiers to have someone go the extra mile for them. When someone suggested he could knock a lap or two off, he said “did the wounded warriors ever take anything off?”
The last laps had to be the hardest. Not only from the extended effort, but by that time of night Rice Village’s clubs and restaurants were packed with young people out for the evening. Almost all were oblivious to Kevin’s running.
The last NBA Finals game was going on so there was a lot of whooping and hollering going on inside. Too bad most of them didn’t understand the real champion of the evening wasn’t LaBron James.
We packed up to go home while the late night crowd wandered the streets or waited in line at the taco truck parked next to us. Kevin’s friends and fellow runners said good night and headed home.
I asked Kevin to sign a poster for PHO. True to form and unselfish to the end, he wrote "PHO -- Thank you for letting me honor you with my run."
Quite an evening. MillerCoors Houston Distributing donated $100 per mile to PHO. Total donations for the night were right at $7,000. We got some great visibility through the event promotion by 93Q. And I got something, too.
Through my involvement with PHO, I am very fortunate to be around a lot of heroes. Each one inspires me. As of 1:00 a.m. that Friday morning, I have a new personal hero -- Kevin Kline.