This year the Bix 7 will be special for an Illinois family, dedicating the run to a loved one who never finished the race four years ago. The family is now trying to spread awareness to prevent another tragedy.
“He kissed me on my cheek and said ‘I love you too’ and those were the last words that I heard from Johnny,” said Rosemary Chapman.
Its been four years since Rosemary and her husband saw their son John.
“You don’t want the phone call that I got. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone,” said Rosemary.
Four years ago John and his wife Jody were running their second Bix 7 race.
“I remember just looking at his face when they were playing the Star Spangle Banner right before the race and thinking how much I love him,” said Jody.
Jody has been a runner her whole life and John was a wrestler.
“He was a two time NCAA All-American in wrestling. I mean he was fit,” said Rosemary.
John lost to Jody in the race the year before, making him determined to beat her the next year.
“Go hard or go home and that was his attitude towards life,” said Rosemary.
That day Jody and John ran right next to each other. Jody eventually passed him up. John would never cross that finish line. He died from a heart attack with only one mile of the race left. On the outside John seemed healthy, now looking back family members say his death could have been prevented. John’s family is now making it their goal to spread awareness.
“Had my son either had a cholesterol check or a stress test he probably would still be here with us today,” said Rosemary.
The family is asking people to get check-ups and to donate to their fundraiser, “Save a life-Donate a dollar.” They say it’s a simple message they hope touches many.
“I realize I can’t go back and change things for us, but you know maybe somebody else can be saved.” said Jody.
Jody still runs the Bix every year.