A few weeks ago, my mom emailed me — I knew it was bad news just a few words in:
I don’t know if you read the family email group, but my cousin Frank’s son, Evan [Sebenius], age 28, collapsed at mile 12 of a half marathon yesterday and died.
That was, of course, very difficult news to read — that a young, seemingly healthy young man with an amazingly bright future was just gone in an instant. The messages from our other family members started pouring in, and tributes filled up my news feed as people from all over the world expressed their sadness on Evan’s mom’s Facebook wall.
And quickly, I realized that it was not just our family mourning Evan’s death. It was the world. I would come to learn that Evan had died while running in the “Beat the Blerch” half marathon, an event that had a big talker among my running friends, both online and in real life. And many of those people — thousands, who have helped raise tens of thousands of dollars in Evan’s honor — are now rallying to make sure that his life does not go uncelebrated.
Running Evan In
I’m taking part, virtually, in the #RunEvanIn project and I hope you’ll consider doing the same (or, if you’re in the Washington state area, run in the live event). It is our community’s way of helping Evan complete his first official half marathon, and to continue to show love and support for his incredibly strong parents and siblings.
Weeks later, I still don’t know how to fully reconcile my feelings about what happened. Of course, I’m heartbroken for Evan’s family — for my family. I hate that his death came during an event that meant so much to so many people and during a sport that has meant so much to me personally. Running has powered me through the highest highs and the lowest lows of my life, and it’s something that I know will always be a part of my routine. But it’s also at the core of a tragic event for my family.
I’m so glad that in a very small way, we’re able — the royal we, the RUNNING we — to make something good come out of something so terrible. I think it can be best summed up Evan’s father himself:
First of all, we want to thank everyone involved in the creation of this memorial run. This was Evan’s first attempt to do a formal half marathon. He trained diligently with a personal trainer. Evan watched what he ate and drank but still enjoyed life to the fullest.
As Evan’s parents, we thought we had experienced all of the facets of this amazing young man. Little did we know, that through this tragic event, it would be revealed the extent to which Evan’s life had impacted so many others.
The response from friends and family in a sphere of humanity we did not even know existed, has come forward to show us how he has changed the lives of so many people. Evan was a generous, kind, intelligent young man that seemed to be a huge part of hundreds of people’s lives. His spontaneous humor, deep philosophical opinions always kept the fires lit in every gathering forcing friends and family to examine themselves and laugh at themselves and toast to the next gathering. Rest in peace, Evan. You are loved by all.
As a side note, Evan was an organ donor and, again, through his generous spirit, is able to help 40-60 people with his passing. He was also a regular blood donor.
(DISCLOSURE: this next section is part of a compensated project I’m doing with Treadmill.com. The opinions shared here are 100% honest and absolutely my own. When shopping on Treadmill.com, use the coupon code KATY and save $50 off any order $999 and above.)
I have a tough time running without something in my ears: great music, an audiobook, or most recently, a compelling podcast. I’ve actually even started to look forward to getting up early — sort of — because I’ve gotten hooked to some of the shows I’m subscribed to. So I decided to put together a pinnable list so it’s easy to bookmark and share! Take a look at the list and let me know what you’d add — tweet me @kwidrick.