LIVING BEYOND IMPOSSIBLE ~ The Terry Hitchcock Biography ~
Ronald Joseph Kule
Nothing… not his loving mother who is out of his life more than in; nor his father who kidnaps him when he is six… not the street gang he joins and leaves; nor the empty, abandoned vehicles in dark alleys and underpasses where he sleeps as a pre-teen to get some peace and quiet in his life; not the Vermont small-town values his grandparents instill in him… nor his U.S.A.F training, his rowdy saxophone performances, raucous summer nights in Port Clinton, Ohio, nor degrees from Bowling Green State University; not his run-ins with life-threatening union bosses in Hamtramck, Michigan and Glasgow, Kentucky… nor incidents within his executive suite among the highest of C-level executives with Gulf & Western, Inc. and The Coca-Cola Company… NOTHING… prepares Terry Hitchcock for the phone call routed to his office in May of 1982—his wife, Sue Anne, is telling him to come home immediately; she has something to reveal.
Less than two years later, Sue dies of cancer, leaving behind three young children. Within a week, his employer, breaking a promise when Terry returns to work, turns his back on him. Friends, save a few, turn away from his troubles, because his family is incomplete. Well-wishes from others include adamant suggestions that he split up his children and leave them to others who know better how to raise a family. They know he has lived a business life to this point. They suspect he cannot boil water or fry eggs, let alone prepare daily meals, dress and assemble his two boys and one daughter for school, and cart them from music lessons to playing fields day in and day out; bring in income, do homework with them, tuck them in at night and make sure they feel loved every day.
Even he is not sure he can, but he guts it out with unwavering courage and commitment:
“Persistence is the only ability needed to achieve success,” he teaches his kids.
Despite personal doubts that leave many tears on his pillow for solitary fortnights, he fears for his ability to raise his family; at times, questioning his God’s apparent abandonment forced upon him.
Terry keeps his family under one roof. To him, nothing is impossible, which he proves with grit and valor alone from the beginning, eventually leading his family to its assured survival based on love and respect.
When one son suggests he must do a run to help single-parent children everywhere – the real victims who suffer the loss of a parent, he takes up the fight and, with the help of friends and sponsors, runs from St. Paul, Minnesota to Atlanta, Georgia, the distance of 75 marathons in 75 consecutive days, generating international media attention, thousands of supporters from all walks of life and children of all ages, who follow his grueling journey.
On target, he arrives in Atlanta’s Bedford-Pine Park (now Central Park) the week of the Opening Ceremonies of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. He is greeted by Mayor Campbell and international press units from as far away as Japan. Cheers from children in schools all across America ring out, because their hero, their champion, has completed what he set out to do.
Officials invite Terry to join the Game’s Opening Ceremonies, but he declines. Feeling he has made his point and extremely tired, he returns to his hometown, courtesy of the last-ever flight of Sun Country Airlines, one of his sponsors. Over the next three months, he lies in a hospital, recovering from his fractured ankles and knees as much as his broken mental condition.
Many top athletes experience a doldrums after accomplishing major feats; yet, Terry, self-effacing and bewildered by the way he feels, never considers himself an athlete; instead, simply an ambassador for children, a Pied Piper of kids, especially those from single-parent homes.
Media in some circles call him “the REAL Forrest Gump.” When accomplished producer and director (the late) Tim VandeSteeg meets him and wishes to make a movie about him, he is rebuffed several times. Terry does keynote-speaker engagements, but only because he wants to make a difference for the parents and children in his audiences. A movie that would bring attention to him just doesn’t seem right to him… until his relentless Hollywood suitor explains that he, too, was a single-parent child and that he knows Academy-Award-winning actor Billy Bob Thornton. Thornton has told him that Terry’s story “… must be put on film and, by the way, I want to play a part in it – to be the narrator in the documentary – for FREE.”
The documentary film MY RUN wins top awards and audience accolades at 11 of 15 film festivals entered. Terry publishes A Father’s Odyssey, a book that not only reveals his daily journal notes from The Run, but also makes a moving legacy of life lessons for his proud children and for parents and children in 26 countries. Inspired readers attempt the “impossible” in their own lives. Both film and book win the prestigious Dove Award.
Now, a feature film, PUSHING LIFE, is planned for 2019.
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During The Run, a news reporter asked Terry, “What would you say to the President of the United States, if he was here right now?” His thoughtful reply resonated with all who heard him or read his book, as well as interested media from all quarters: “Mr. President, do you believe that children are our future? …”
Someone from the onlooking crowd yelled, “Well, of course they are!”
“… Then, Mr. President, why do we not have a Cabinet-level Secretary of Children to protect and defend our children and their rights, and futures?”
A movement is underfoot today to bring to fruition exactly that. The man who nearly killed himself running in favor of children’s welfare and future, now envisions an office of a Secretary of Children within the President’s cabinet. This quiet, gallant man continues to work toward this dream becoming reality; perhaps, inspiring others to help him.
Anyone wish to bet against Terry Hitchcock’s Ultimate Dream becoming a reality?
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