Child’s death inspires half marathon runners

Child’s death inspires half marathon runners

SouthCoastTODAY.com | March 8, 2011 | By Don Cuddy

NEW BEDFORD — It is difficult to imagine the grief that accompanies the death of a 2-year-old child. But the Simmons family of New Bedford has found solace in the knowledge that the loss of their son, Owen, to a childhood disease in 2009 has inspired dozens of men and women to get out and train for this year’s New Bedford Half Marathon.

The runners are dedicating their efforts to raise awareness of spinal muscular atrophy, a leading cause of death in infants and toddlers. One in 6,000 babies is born with SMA, a motor neuron disease that attacks voluntary muscle movement and leaves children trapped inside their own bodies.

Many of the runners are novices but have drawn inspiration from the leadership of Stephen Taylor, a resource police officer at New Bedford High School. Andrew Simmons, Owen’s father, is a New Bedford police detective and a colleague of Taylor.

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