INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The Indianapolis Mini-Marathon will be back in action on Saturday for the 42nd year.
Organizers expect there to be some 35,000 runners and walkers to turn out for the race.
One of those runners is a Zionsville firefighter and father who will run to honor his son.
Caden Coonfield was born in November with a very complicated heart defect. His cardiologist has called it one of the most complicated heart issues.
“It is known as Heterotaxy syndrome. Certain chambers aren’t where they’re supposed to be. Certain valves didn’t develop the way they’re supposed to develop,” said Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health cardiologist Timothy Cordes.
In his short five months of life, Caden has already had two open-heart surgeries and spent his first 109 days at Riley Children’s Hospital.
“It’s been a long six months with Caden but you know, I feel like we have a really strong faith so we’ve been trying to lean on that,” said his mother Aimee Coonfield.
Their son is now back at home and overall doing well with his parents and two-year-old sister. He is expected to have another procedure around the age of two.
“My hope is that he will grow up and be a normal adult. My goal is that when you see him and he’s in high school and college he will look and act completely normal,” Cordes said.
Caden’s father, Rob Coonfield, said his son has had to fight a tough battle so he wants to do something to honor him. On Saturday, Rob will suit up in his firefighter gear and run the mini-marathon.
“It makes me running in the mini look like a joke because it was very hard on us but it’s something that has strengthened us and made us stronger for the future,” said Caden’s father Rob Coonfield.
For the last few months, he has trained in between his time at the hospital, firehouse and his second job as an assistant soccer coach at UIndy.
“He’s always been in pretty good shape but just finding the time because we’ve been really busy with being at the hospital and taking care of our daughter,” said Aimee.
“We wanna make sure he knows we’re by his side and we want him to know that I’m willing to fight for him as much as he’s willing to fight,” said Rob.
For each mile he runs, he will collect donations for Little Mended Hearts, a group that funds research and supports families with congenital heart defects.
“I just hope he understands that I’m alongside him and so is his mom through this whole process.” he added.