By Sarah Gooding

A chance comment, in the midst of supporting her brother through learning to walk again after breaking his neck in a four-wheeler accident, changed Missy Chaney Curtis’ life forever.

“My brother, Larry, had to learn to walk again after breaking his neck in a very serious four-wheeler accident,” she said.

While at physical therapy, they talked about the scale of the difficulty, with an off-hand comment that the challenge he was enduring was probably comparable to running a marathon.

“He looked at me and said, ‘If I learn to walk again, will you run a marathon?’ Of course, my immediate response was, ‘Yes, if you learn to walk again, I’ll run a marathon for you.’”

At that time, Curtis was not particularly active, and several years went by with no further mention of that conversation, until the anniversary of the accident rolled around and her brother reminded her of her promise. “He had done his part. It was now time for me to do mine.

“I got off the phone, loaded C25K (Couch to 5K), put on some tennis shoes and headed out to run,” she said, adding, “It was tough.”

But the program set her up for success, and five years ago, she ran the Waddell & Reed Marathon in Kansas City with her family, friends and brother present at the finish line. That day, she wore a shirt with a saying her mother developed, “He learned to walk. She learned to run.”

“It was an amazing day, to say the least,” she said. “After that, I continued to run for health. I enjoyed running, and it had become a part of my life. Through the whole endeavor of running, I discovered a love for fitness and later became a personal trainer.”

Now, that is her full-time career, and she spends her days doing everything from teaching swim lessons to kids, instructing group fitness classes, working with senior adults and everything in between.

“That simple challenge he gave me about running that marathon completely changed my life,” she said.

But her passion for running died abruptly two years ago in February when her mom and stepdad were killed in a semi-truck accident.

“My running basically just ceased,” Curtis said. “My mom was one of my biggest supporters through my whole fitness journey and it made me sad to run.”

Grief has been at war with a desire to make her mom proud through running throughout that time, and Curtis said not long ago, she decided to push past the pain and run again.

So again, she loaded C25K, laced up her running shoes and started over.

“I’ve got my head on right now,” she said. “I feel like I’m starting at square one with my running, but I’m ready for the healing to begin and to start working on focusing on the positives in my life, rather than thinking on what I lost in my parents’ death.”

Curtis will run the Kansas City Half Marathon Sunday, October 17, 2020, and this time plans to run it in honor of George and Elaine Walker.

“It’s time to live again and regain my life,” Curtis said. “Not to let the loss hold me back, but to take where I am at today and move forward and live life again.”