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Custodian headed to Boston Marathon gets surprise send-off from students

Heads to Boston for 31st marathon
Posted at 9:21 AM, Apr 15, 2022

GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — A send-off she did not see coming. Kathy Waldron got a huge surprise from her students at Sullivan Elementary in Green Bay as she heads to Boston this weekend.

At 10 a.m. on the dot, Waldron was called into the office. She was greeted by media, and a gift of goodies from the school's principal, Tanya Fenner. But the fun didn't stop there.

Stepping out into the halls, Waldron was then greeted with cheers, chants, and an array of signs from students and faculty, all encouraging her on her next big race.

Waldron is running her 31st Boston Marathon. She's part of the "Quarter-Century Club" of folks who've run at least 25 marathons. Waldron is the only woman in Wisconsin to be a part of it.

“I had no idea," said Waldron with a giggle. "I keep seeing people who knew, [and said] you could have tipped me off. Everybody knew more than me!"

The faculty learned about Waldron's achievement and knew this was something to celebrate.

"I said, 'let's see if we can't get outside,'" said Fenner. "[The] community should know her amazing story. Like, it's just it's phenomenal."

As she walked down the halls, Waldron had the biggest smile on her face as she hugged and thanked every single student. After the fact, she couldn't muster the words of how much it meant to her.

“It's like, just little me," said Waldron. "It's just me, an old lady who runs and they're and they're doing all this just for me.”

The custodian owes her love of running to her father, who ran in the Boston Marathon himself and then was also buried with Kathy's first marathon medal.

“He would say, I knew you could do it, and he always did support me," said Waldron. "He told me that I could do whatever I wanted when I was five, and I always remember that. “

Waldron hopes she can inspire her students, too.

"I absolutely love to talk to them about running, and I tell them that, 'You can do this too,'" said Waldron. "You can do this when you're older, too... I'm just hoping that someone will listen and I think they will.”

Students and staff will be cheering her on come this Monday. So loud, in fact, she'll probably be able to hear them from Boston.