DRACUT, Mass. - A firefighter and a family from Dracut have a special, lifelong bond after tragedy brought them together, and now they're getting ready to run the 2017 Boston Marathon.
The 26.2 miles are for a cause that’s near and dear to the Middlemiss family’s heart.
A video of then 2-year-old Jack Middlemiss from Dracut crossing the marathon finish line went viral last year.
“I was crying and I look around and everyone around us has tears running down our eyes. People who don't even know our story,” said Kate Middlemiss, Jack’s mom.
Physical exertion is nearly impossible for Jack because he has cardiomyopathy - essentially his heart is too big and has to work much harder to pump blood.
He has been waiting for a year and a half for a heart transplant.
“We could get the call tomorrow, or we could get the call two years from now,” said dad Scott Middlemiss.
The Middlemiss family knows a lot about the trials of cardiomyopathy; Jack's older brother, Joseph, died from cardiomyopathy at the age of 6.
As doctors desperately tried to save Joseph, a total stranger comforted Kate in the emergency room.
“Held my hand, kept me sane,” said Kate.
She believes her son Joseph's spirit sent Dracut firefighter Justin George to be with her that day.
“It just seemed like that was what I was supposed to do,” said Justin.
A lifelong bond was formed.
The Middlemiss family, in turn, supported Justin's family when he was deployed by the National Guard to Afghanistan.
The foundation spreads acts of kindness around the world and raises money for a cure for Jack and other kids with cardiomyopathy.
“The unexpected hope in your darkest hour that there's a glimmer of hope,” said Kate.
Jack will be at the finish line again this year to cheer on dad and Justin who are hoping he will one day be able to join them.
© 2017 Cox Media Group.