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Unborn baby with Down syndrome inspired father to run Boston Marathon


Oliver Foley |

Elizabeth Pardi - published on 04/19/17

The expectant dad has helped raise over $64,000 in his daughter's honor, to benefit charity.

It’s not unusual for parents to embrace their unborn child as an individual, even before having met him or her. They often select a name, set up a nursery, and even start saving for an education before their baby is born. What is unusual, however, and incredibly heartwarming, is a father embracing his unborn daughter, Down syndrome diagnosis and all, by running a marathon in her honor.

Oliver Foley and his wife, Kinnon, found out at just 11 weeks that their unborn daughter, whom they’ve named Tenley, has Down syndrome. “It was really hard at first,“ Kinnon admitted to WBZ. “You have this vision of who your child is when you’re pregnant and to get something that changes [that] is really challenging.”

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WATCH: Children with Down syndrome demonstrate the power of the Incarnation

But it wasn’t long before the young couple found great comfort through connecting with parents who knew exactly what they were going through. Their doctors urged them to get in touch with the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress, which proved to be nothing short of a blessing for them, providing uplifting connections and support.

“They have the perspective that this isn’t something to be sad about. Your life and the lives of your friends and family will be enriched by your [child],” Oliver explained, proving the power of perspective in difficult times.

It was roughly a month and a half after finding out about Tenley’s diagnosis that the brave new father made the decision to run the Boston Marathon in her honor. “I learned the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress had one bib left. It felt like it was meant to be.” He got to work training for the event, even setting up a fundraising page, with all proceeds going to the Congress. Oliver’s initial goal was to raise $15,000, which he told ABC News was “aggressive but achievable.” Amazingly, he managed to pass that goal and has currently raised well over $64,000.

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My son is so much more than Down syndrome

It’s not only little Tenley who’s motivating Oliver, though. Kinnon’s uncle, Chris McCall, who sadly passed away in 2012, also had Down syndrome. “He was the most wonderful, loving, kind person,” the young mother affectionately described her uncle. “He brought incredible joy to his siblings and profoundly affected my mom and dad’s lives.”

To add to the sweetness of the Foleys’ story, Chris’ birthday, May 3, is also Tenley’s due date. “[We’re] just really excited for her to get here,” Kinnon said of the baby girl they’re anxious to meet.

Oliver ran the prominent Boston marathon on Monday, along with an estimated 30,000 other runners. Undoubtedly, he had Chris and, of course, Tenley on his mind for every mile, as he awaited the day he can finally hold her in his arms and joyfully welcome her into his world. “I’m thrilled to have a new running partner,” he wrote, “as I become the guy pushing a stroller on my morning runs.”

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