Tim Revell will run Austin Marathon for 16th time to raise money to help cure sons' disease
Tim Revell is about to run his 16th Austin Marathon and break an even more important mile marker: He will have raised $200,000 for CureDuchenne by running the Austin Marathon.
The national nonprofit funds research for Duchenne, a form of muscular dystrophy. Both of Revell's sons have the disease, which affects only boys.
Like most Austin runners, Revell wasn't sure if this year's race would happen. The race was postponed from its usual February date because of the COVID-19 pandemic and is being run both virtually and in person on April 25. The in-person race will be only a half-marathon or a 5K.
That led Revell to a big question: Run a full marathon virtually or run the half-marathon in person? After 15 years of running this race, his answer was to do it in person and to hope that somehow, even with spectators limited, his boys would be at the finish line to cheer him on.
Of course, his sons, Timothy, 17, and Andrew, 14, are too big for him to carry them across the finish line, but he'll still wear his lime green CureDuchenne cape and run for them. His tagline: "Running for the boys who can't."
Fifteen years ago when Timothy was diagnosed, Tim Revell and his wife, Laura, learned there was very little treatment to offer him. There were no clinical trials or good medications on the horizon, just a life expectancy of 20 years. There was some use of steroids and anti-inflammatory medications to help.
More on the Revell family:Leander family seeks cure for sons
Andrew was later born and then diagnosed at age 5, which was a surprise because he did not have as many of the early signs as his brother had.
The disease is a genetic mutation that causes the body to not be able to produce dystrophin, a protein muscles need. Children with Duchenne develop problems walking and eventually trouble breathing until their hearts fail.
The Revells became advocates and have now raised almost $4 million for CureDuchenne through golf tournaments and lunch events and through being one of the featured nonprofits for the Mack, Jack & McConaughey weekend of events from Mack Brown, Jack Ingram and Matthew McConaughey.
Their fundraising, though, started with the Austin Marathon. Revell loved to run as a kid and even remembers doing the Capital 10,000 race when he was 11 or 12, but he wasn't good enough to make the track team in high school.
When Timothy got diagnosed, Laura encouraged Revell to get out of the house and sign up for the Austin Marathon. At that point, he had never run more than six miles.
Running became thinking time, praying time and stress-releasing time for this sales executive of a print services company. It also became the way he fights Duchenne.
That first year, 2006, he finished the marathon and raised $15,000 from contributions. Soon friends began to come out each year to root for him at different spots along the race course. They hosted a water spot, and, of course, pledged money to Revell's run.
The money Revell has raised paid for some of the early gene therapy research and other clinical trials. The Revell sons have participated in two trials each and are waiting to hear about another trial.
"We went from zero clinical trials to now there's 30," Revell says. "We've gone from 0 to 100 miles an hour."
He sees hope in some of these trials, including one that injects stem cells from human heart muscles.
"We've now seen the life expectancy closer to 30," he says, with some boys living to 40. "But the real question is quality of life."
Now is a critical time for his sons. "We're at a threshold as a family. We're on the brink. We really need something," he says.
Timothy has lost the ability to walk on his own. Andrew still can walk, but he can no longer run. As he's grown, he's had more trouble getting up off the ground.
"This disease is crushing at every turn," Revell says. "They lose the ability to do daily tasks."
The marathon is "my moment to fight back. We can still celebrate some kind of accomplishment together."
It's a boost to him to know that his boys know he "is doing everything he can to fight for them. That's the attitude we take: resiliency and perseverance for them."
Typically the boys and Laura show up around mile 19 to cheer him on as the race gets harder and then again at the finish line.
"Sometimes all I can do is collapse in my wife's arms and cry," he says. It's "the enormity of the race and what I'm doing and the fear of the future, the unknown of the future."
He'll keep running, even in a pandemic, even if it can be only a half marathon this year.
"We're still hoping," Revell says. "We've always thought about one more day is hope, one more day is life. Laura and I continue to breathe life into them."
Austin Marathon 2021
The in-person event begins at 7 a.m. April 25 at Cesar Chavez Street and Congress Avenue. Sign up at youraustinmarathon.com.
COVID-19 safety plan:
• Offer virtual marathon, half-marathon and 5K.
• Offer only half-marathon and 5K in person.
• Reduce participation by 53 percent.
• Reduce density by 88 percent.
• Assign start times over a longer period of time, with only five people at the starting line at a time.
• Increase sanitation and enact COVID-19 safety protocols.
• Eliminate mass gatherings.
• Discourage spectators.
• Offer water stations with gloved and masked volunteers and touchless refill stations.
To make a donation to Tim Revell's run, go to charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/running-to-cure-duchenne2.