Toledo Race for the Cure: In Memory of Pam Graver-Koenig

Toledo Race for the Cure: In Memory of Pam Graver-Koenig

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - This year's Toledo Race for the Cure is named in memory of Pam Graver-Koenig.

Fewer people have had a bigger impact on the sport of running in Toledo than Pam.

A competitive runner herself, she served as the director of the Glass City Marathon, worked at Dave's Running Shop for a time and volunteered to work at dozens of races.

The Northwest Ohio Komen Race for the Cure was one of Pam's favorites even before she herself was diagnosed with breast cancer.

At this year's race, Pam's family will be out in force, honoring her legacy.

One thing you'll find out when diagnosed with breast cancer is it turns your life upside down rather quickly.

It's overwhelming at times.

In the past five years, Brian Koenig, has had to work to develop a new "normal" for his kids - Liz, a high school senior, and her freshman brother Paul.

But the loss is always there, lingering beneath their memories.

"I was so young so I didn't know a whole lot of what was going on but I always remember her in a good way," said Paul.

Brian says Pam's memory is always there, giving him inspiration as he raises the kids.

"There's certain guidance a mother has that no matter what I do, I can't do it," said Brian. "Actually if there's one thing that makes it easy for me as a dad, it's that all I have to use is Pam as the benchmark - what would Pam do? How would Pam want me to react in this situation."

Brian, Liz and Paul would do anything to turn back the clock for more time with their wife and mom.

Pam Graver-Koenig was a competitive runner who participated in 25 races each year and finished one marathon in under three hours, an amazing feat for a female runner.

Brian was also a runner and triathlete who met Pam at a race.

"It took about a year and a half for me to ask Pam out. One of the things…Pam was one of the few females that could go out for a 40-mile bike ride, or run 8-10 miles together," said Brian. "I asked if she'd like to get married and she said yes."

Pam had built a career as a special education teacher and was respected as a passionate and caring educator and coach.

Her passion and love for children was never more evident than when she became mom to Elizabeth, and three years later, to Paul.

She shared her love of sports with both kids, volunteering to coach nearly every basketball, soccer and cross-country team the kids were part of, and they loved it.

"She was just always there for us, always caring for us, and I remember always playing sports with her and she was always there," said Paul.

Sports remained the constant for the family when Pam was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, and as she heard the words again in 2010 and 2011.

Pam kept encouraging athletics for the kids, just 12 and 9 years old at the time, in part to give herself a distraction, and in part to shield them from what the cancer was doing to her.

"She was always looking out for us. Doing what was best even though I know she was struggling and it must have been hard," said Liz.

On July 4th, 2001, Pam Graver-Koenig went the distance one last time and left a legacy of inspiration and athletic accomplishment her family is proud of.

"I want to push as hard and be as good as she was in sports," said Paul. "I sometimes think of her and what would she think about how I was running. Running reminds me of her."

At Woodmore High School, where both kids play varsity soccer and cross-country, a scholarship has been established in Pam's name to help students who want to pursue a career helping children, and who excel in sports.

Pam was an avid supporter of the northwest Ohio Komen Race for the Cure and routinely found herself among the top finishers each year.

Her family is proud the race has become part of her legacy as the 2016 Toledo Race for the Cure is named in memory of Pam Graver-Koenig.

"The tears would be coming down her cheeks.  She wouldn't say a whole lot…she'd be very emotional, gratified because of it," said Brian.

"I think she'd think it was great how many people were there remembering her," said Paul.

"I can't even imagine what it will be like but I'm sure it will be great," said Liz. I always run it personally for her, but to know everyone is doing it, it's really cool."

The Toledo Race for the Cure is Sunday September 25.

Follow WTOL:  

Download our app here

Copyright 2016 WTOL. All rights reserved.