For Jason Parr, his quest to complete the 2014 Boston Marathon is a calling, inspired by the story of a courageous father-son duo.
For others, it is an inspiration of its own.
Parr was one of 30 people selected to join Team Hoyt, who has competed in the Boston Marathon for 32 years, for the 2014 meeting of the annual distance event, which runs on Monday, April 21.
Beyond just running the marathon, his goal is to finish in the top 500.
“It started when I was intrigued by this story of Rick and Dick Hoyt, the father who pushes his son, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, in the Boston Marathon,” said Parr, who former standout for the Great Bend High School track and cross-country teams. “I was inspired by the story.”
Parr had a personal connection to the story.
“At birth, I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, too,” Parr said.
Doctors told Parr’s parents something similar to what the Hoyts were told.
“(Jason’s) one of five kids, a twin, who was born ill,” Parr’s mother Jamie Miller said. “The doctors didn’t expect him to walk of talk. They got a place for him, and we didn’t do that.
“In 1999, (then Great Bend head track and cross-country) coach (Jack) Bowman had him run with the high schoolers, and he smoked them.”
That led Parr down a path he is still walking — or running — down now.
Parr is a gym teacher at Union Chapel Elementary School in Missouri, as well as coaching track and cross-country for Park Hill High School.
He is also a Supervisor of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Parr has competed in a number of distance events, including the Ironman Triathlon.
“I’ve done the St. Louis marathon, and I did my first Ironman last year,” Parr said. “I hope to do that again. It really started with (Bowman). I owe him a lot as my mentor. He is a huge reason why I do what I do today.”
Parr has overcome an awful lot in his life to get where he is.
“There have been major surgeries and complications,” Parr said. “God has been faithful, and He still shows it today.”
He has spent seven years inspiring a large group of young athletes as a coach, something that showed itself in full on Friday.
When Parr came to work, he found a group waiting for him.
“Today was one of those days that will stay in your memory bank forever,” Parr said. “I walked into my gym about to get ready for a normal day and I find hundreds of people all wearing T-shirts that say ‘Team Parr’ on the back. There was probably over 1,000 people there.
“I was overwhelmed with joy. There has just been so much support. Through teaching and coaching, I’ve been able to inspire a lot of people, and it means a lot to see them all there supporting me.”
A fundraising website for Parr can be found at www.crowdrise.com/jasonparr