Several Connecticut children’s charities will benefit from the life and legacy of a West Hartford boy who battled a rare illness.
Sunday, about 800 runners and walkers laced up for the seventh annual Johnny’s Jog for Charity. On the minds of many was the little boy the 5K is named after, Johnny Moran.
“This one’s closest to my heart. I run a lot of races and this one definitely is one that I had to be here,” said Patrick Lantry of Redding, Mass.
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Sunday’s race was the first the Moran family has held since losing 9-year-old Johnny last April, to Wieacker Wolff Syndrome, a degenerative genetic disorder.
“This is definitely a little bit of a different year. Dan and I both woke up this morning recognizing that,” said Johnny’s mother, Laura Moran.
Johnny’s father Dan Moran remembers, “His courage, his strength, just how inspiring he was. The fact that he could live a whole life and never speak a word and inspire and touch so many people.”
“He was a kid that had more love than you can ever imagine, and I think that people that met him knew that,” Laura added.
Green was part of the uniform for hundreds of runners who lined in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square to take part. The Saint Patrick’s Day weekend tradition had been postponed because of the weather. Sunday, a light drizzle turned into a down pour just as the runners left the starting line.
During Johnny’s illness the community stepped-up to help the Moran family. The family’s made an effort to try to give back. Since organizing the race in 2011, they’ve raised nearly $300,000 for children’s charities.
“I think we were pulled into a world that we had no idea even existed of people and humanity that it was really inspiring to us,” Laura said.
The money raised will help three charities. The first, will benefit an educational program for under-privileged middle-school boys at Hartford’s Covenant Preparatory School. It will also help families facing life-altering illness and medical expenses through the Molly Ann Tango Memorial. Lastly, the Miracle League of Connecticut, which allows children with special needs to play baseball like their peers, will receive a donation. Johnny was on a Miracle League team.
“The charities that we touch are near and dear to our heart. They really go out of their way to help children in so many different capacities. A lot of them are smaller charities so you know where every dollar is going,” said Laura.
During his short life, Johnny helped a lot of other kids.
Even though he’s gone, his father says, “his legacy lives on forever.”