My #IndyMini Story: Brett Braunecker

In 2014, I was the heaviest I had ever been. This was an extremely difficult time for me because I always considered myself a fitness enthusiast and took care of my health. The weight crept up over time, mostly because of stress, poor eating, and inactivity due to multiple knee surgeries. I was 75lbs overweight and desperate for a change, but I struggled to make a plan and stick with it.

The turning point for me came when my mom was diagnosed with cancer, and she began the fight for her life. Watching her battle to maintain her health through chemotherapy treatments, I realized how horribly I was treating my own body. My mom’s tenacity was the motivation I needed to take control of my health and start making changes.

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It seems silly to say now, but I never considered myself a “runner”. I was discouraged by knee surgeries and what I thought was lack of natural ability. But, when I changed my eating and exercise habits my confidence soared, so I decided to give running a try. Stepping out of my comfort zone paid off; by August 2014 I lost all of the extra weight that I was carrying around.

My mom gave me more than just the purpose to begin my weight loss journey. She was my biggest supporter, and was behind me from the start. Watching her strength and perseverance through illness inspired me to push beyond my limits and accomplish my goals.

In 2015, I made a goal to run my first half marathon. I decided to run the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in honor of my mom. Unfortunately, my mom passed away in February of that year, so she was not there to meet me at the end, but I was not alone.  In an emotional moment, my wife, kids, and friends surprised me at the finish line cheering with cowbells and wearing custom t-shirts.

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My mom’s legacy is the reason I run the #IndyMini , and this year my brother is coming in from Missouri to run in honor of her too. My goal is to finish the Indy Mini in under 1:50:00 to achieve a personal best. I want to give my best for my mom who never gave me any less!

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My #IndyMini Story: Mary Ann and Dan Davis

Running a half marathon race requires runners to push themselves, often in ways they never imagined. Dan Davis not only pushes himself to run the distance, but he also pushes his mother Mary Ann along with him. Dan and Mary Ann’s #WhyIMini story is one about a son’s untiring love for his mother and the possibilities of pursuing one’s dreams no matter how impossible they seem.

It all began 3 years ago when Dan asked his mother to run the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon with him. Mary Ann knew that her son had an indescribable passion for running in the Indy Mini, and she desperately wanted to be a part of the experience. However, this seemed impossible to Mary Ann whose health prevented her from walking most distances, let alone running a half marathon.

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Dan did not let his mother’s health circumstances keep him from getting her to race with him. Instead, he came up with a plan to help her keep the pace. He spent countless hours in his garage modifying a double stroller to create a vehicle in which his mother could comfortably sit while he pushed her through the race. He also wanted to make sure that his mother rode in style, so he painted the vehicle in her favorite shade of pink, and he fashioned the seat with checkered flag print fabric.

When race day came, Mary Ann was full of joy and pride for what her son had done for her, but she did not expect the reactions that she and Dan received from other race participants. She was taken aback by the support of other runners and walkers as they cheered her son on with applause and words of encouragement. She smiled the whole way through the race, raising her arms, clenching her fists and shaking them in delight.

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Feeling uplifted by the other runners and walkers in the Mini-Marathon, Dan ran faster in his final mile than he did in the first. When the finish was in sight, Dan stopped running unexpectedly. He walked to the front of his mother’s cart and helped her stand. With her son’s support, Mary Ann crossed the finish line and completed the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon with an impressive time of 1:46. She beamed as she rang the PR bell.

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Dan and Mary Ann have already registered for the 2016 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, so make sure to show support when you see them on May 7!