Running for Love

By Judy Layne

July 4, 2022 was a day of unimaginable sorrow for Kevin. That’s the day when Kevin lost his long-time spouse and best friend Tammy, 17-year-old son Thomas, 18-month-old daughter Rosemary and beloved 18-year-old Beagle Rosco in a tragic car accident. Kevin unselfishly agreed to share the story of his heartbreak and how he plans to run in the upcoming Blue Nose Marathon to honour his lost family members and raise money for the SPCA. I am inspired by Kevin’s bravery and I know you will be too.

I asked Kevin how a person deals with such sudden staggering heartbreak. Kevin shared “Honestly, it’s been an unfathomable nightmare that I’m still hoping to wake up from. I lost 3/5 of what made up the core of what I felt I existed for. What can you really say when you lose two of your babies? No matter how many hugs, snuggles, or ‘I love you’s’ there were, it could never be enough. And then there’s Tammy, with whom I shared so much of my life and who was still one of my best friends ever. I would give anything in this world just to have one more minute with them. Rosco was an amazing dog, he was always so gentle with everyone and everything. Even very old, mostly blind, and a bit senile, he was still one of the best dogs I could imagine having.”

It’s a struggle coming out of a dark place of sadness into the light. “Part of me is still stuck on that day, and a part of me may always be,” said Kevin. “I try to focus on my daughter Renee and my partner Rachel. We talk about those we’ve lost daily and our memories of them. I don’t believe there’s been a day since the accident I haven’t shed tears for them. Sometimes it might be 3 minutes, other days 3 hours. I use running as a sort of meditation and focus tool as well. I’ve tried to conduct each day with respect to their memory.”

Kevin is running in the Blue Nose Marathon in honour of Tammy, Thomas, Rosemary and Rosco and to raise money for the SPCA. He explained “I wanted my first full marathon to have some meaning – to be something that would mean a lot to them. So I decided to support a cause that they cared deeply about. Tammy was a big supporter of the SPCA and of helping animals that might not be so easily adopted find a home to love them. We all loved our dogs – they were like family and brought laughter and joy to our life. Two of our 3 rescue beagles – Charlotte and Rosco – were from the Yarmouth SPCA. The Blue Nose has many fundraising options that other marathons might not, and I checked to see if they had, or were able to add, SPCA as a fundraising option, which they did.”

“We adopted Rosco when he was approximately 11 years old,” said Kevin. “He looked like a butterball turkey (Tammy said he had so many forehead wrinkles he looked like a Klingon), wheezed and coughed and couldn’t do much more than a slow waddle. I had thought that Rosco’s time was limited and we just wanted to give him a last good couple of months. The whole family, especially Thomas and Tammy who took turns snuggling with him each night, gave him lots of love. When she came along, Rosemary was amazingly gentle with him for someone so young. Rosco got into shape, lost about 20 lbs, and at 18 years old, definitely proved me wrong. We were planning on adopting a couple more beagles last year.”

I asked Kevin if the special reason behind why he’s running in the race helped him through the rigorous process of preparing for the marathon. He replied “Training takes months of preparation and sticking as best you can to a schedule. You need to be willing to go out in rain, snow, cold, and whatever nature feels like throwing at you. I’ve definitely hit some snags along the way that, if I wasn’t running in their memory, I would have put off doing this. When you hit the 20+km point in a run, it can be hard to stay motivated – especially on a solo run. I’ve had some good, supportive, running group friends helping me along the way, a good physiotherapist to help keep me training through injuries, and the support of my daughter Renee and partner Rachel.”

Kevin set a goal to raise $3,000 for the SPCA and he’s almost cracked the $2,000 mark. He encourages people to donate. He shared “The SPCA played a part in putting smiles on three very beautiful, amazing people’s faces who meant, and will always mean, so much to me. It would have made them very happy to know people were giving to support the SPCA in helping rescue animals and to think of the smiles they could put on other families’ faces too.”

Please show your support for Kevin’s beautiful legacy of love by donating. Donations can be made online here until June 11th.

Kevin’s wise words are a reminder for all of us. “Always let your loved ones, humans or pets, know how loved they are, how proud you are of them and how glad you are to have them in your life. Make it mean just as much each time you say it as if it’s the last time you might say it to them.”

Please click here to take a few minutes to read about the precious family members that Kevin lost.

Judy Layne

Judy is a dedicated volunteer with the Nova Scotia SPCA and proud adoptive fur-mama to Linc. She is committed to speaking for animals who cannot speak for themselves.