Miracle marathon runner: 12-year-old finishes GR half-marathon 4 months after a bad fall

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – With tears in his eyes, 12-year-old Timmy Fanco and his family crossed the finish line at the Grand Rapids Half Marathon.

The start of the 13.1 mile race began four months ago when Timmy was unresponsive in a coma at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. He had a horrific T-bone accident on June 10th.

Doctors told his family there was a chance he wouldn’t to survive.

Afterwards, they said it was likely that he would remain in an unresponsive state for the rest of his life. He had sustained bilateral fractures of his femurs, a broken jaw, wrist and arms, and had stage 3 traumatic brain injury that affected the brainstem.

As Timmy began to resist the diagnosis, he slowly began to regain his movements. Then his words came. And according to his mother, Liz Fanco, one of the first thoughts out of his mouth was, “How many weeks until the half marathon?”

“He was very insistent to his therapist and his orthopedist, ‘I’m going to run a half marathon on October 16th. So by then I have to be able to use my legs,” said Liz Fanco before the race.

The Fanco family pose after the Grand Rapids Half Marathon. (Courtesy of Liz Fanco)

On Sunday, Timmy struggled through the cramps, the pain in his hip caused by the anchors holding the two metal bars in his thighs and the fact that his training was disrupted due to the accident and the amount of weight he was exposing could, was limited himself.

“It felt like the pinnacle of Timmy’s recovery to me,” his mother said. “Although he is not yet 100% back to his pre-accident abilities, this race was the goal he set himself when he came out of the coma. He signed up for it last October, the night before he ran the 221 half marathon. He was determined to do it and my job was to support that goal, help him train and guide him through the process.”

Around mile 4 was the first emotional moment. They walked on Monroe, across Michigan Street and could see Children’s Hospital. Timmy pointed out to his mother that this was the hospital where he spent the first few days after his accident. He spent a total of six weeks between Helen DeVos and Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital. Liz Fanco says that was the first time she cried.

“I looked at the lights on the 8th floor and emotionally just lost my composure. Four months ago yesterday he was still in a coma in one of those rooms and there he was next to me, speeding across the street with me and waving at the police officers who were directing traffic,” said Liz Fanco.

There were some very tough miles along the way and some breaks they had to take to stretch tight, cramped muscles. But the strongest moment came at mile 11. Timmy was physically exhausted. This was the furthest distance he had run since the accident, with 2.1 miles to go. In the distance he noticed a group of schoolmates holding up signs and cheering him on. It was just the boost he needed to finish.

“They ran and walked with him from mile 11 to just before the finish line,” Mom said. “When his legs were about to give out from cramps, they helped him carry him. It was amazing to see a bunch of 11-12 year old boys supporting their boyfriend so physically and emotionally.”

Timmy’s next race will be the Zombie Dash Halloween 5k in Cannonsburg. The next race the Fancos are planning as a family is the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot. Timmy hopes he can run from start to finish without a break by then. For this he will start training with his mom on Tuesday.

https://www.woodtv.com/community/community-stories/miracle-marathoner-12-year-old-finishes-gr-half-marathon-4-months-after-bad-crash/ Miracle marathon runner: 12-year-old finishes GR half-marathon 4 months after a bad fall

Dais Johnston

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