Wisconsin mother runs marathons in memory of son

Michelle Diehl's son biked alongside as she trained for the marathon until he died of a heart infection.
Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 3:07 PM CDT
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NEENAH, Wis. (WBAY) - The Community First Fox Cities Marathon is fast approaching, now less than three weeks away.

One of this year’s participants is hoping to finish fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon, and her motivation is drawn from the memory of her son.

In 2007, Michelle Diehl fell in love with running.

One year later, she competed in her first marathon, the Community First Fox Cities Marathon.

Her biggest supporter, her young son Kaden.

“When I would go for runs he would ride his bike with me quite a bit and then as he got older he started running with me, he actually ran the kids run at the Fox Cities Marathon,” recalls Michelle.

Tragically, Kaden passed away eight years ago at the age of ten from a heart infection.

Along with continuing to run in his honor, Michelle started a non-profit in his name, Kindness for Kaden, to give back to their Menomenee Falls community.

“We donate to the food pantry, we help kids in need of Christmas gifts, we award scholarships to graduating seniors, just little things that we try to give back to the community,” explains Michelle.

When Michelle returns to the Fox Cities in a few weeks, she will be running her 12th marathon.

Over the years, her times have gotten faster, to the point she is now aiming to qualify for the prestigious Boston Marathon next spring.

She knows her son will be with her in spirit on the course, always serving as her inspiration.

“I know that he crossed the finish line with me in 2008 and he’ll be there with me. He’d be very proud, he’d be out there, he’d be cheering along the course, yeah, he would be my biggest fan,” says Michelle with a smile.