SAN DIEGO - Richard Nares recently spent nearly three months on the road, running.
The 65-year-old ran from Seattle to San Diego raising money and making stops at children's hospitals along the way to deliver a message, and a gift.
Richard and his wife Diane turned tragedy into opportunity. After losing their 6-year-old son Emilio to cancer in 2000, they started the Emilio Nares Foundation, a non-profit that provides assistance for families battling childhood cancer.
"What we witnessed during that time was families struggling with everyday needs," said Nares. "Transportation, food, paying bills."
Families like that of La Toya Johnson, who've relied on rides from the Nares Foundation for nearly 11 years.
"Some of us live hours, two hours, three hours away from the hospital. So, to be able to get your child to the appointment on time, sometimes early, and you're able to just relax your mind and get your brain prepared for that appointment... to me is awesome," said Johnson.
At one point, Nares used his own car to help drive families to Rady Children's Hospital. Since then, the Emilio Nares Foundation has grown. Seven vans now assist 175 patients totaling at least four thousand rides a year for children at both Rady and at the Orange County Children's Hospital.
"We wanted to tackle transportation because we knew that was a horrific ordeal for a lot of families because either they had one car or no car," said Nares.
"Some kids, as my daughter, just have moments where you don't know what's going to happen so just to be able to have that type of transportation, that type of reliability is more than phenomenal," said Johnson.
As a way to raise funds, Nares turned to running. On June 4th, he began a 12-hundred mile journey from Seattle to San Diego, stopping at nine children's hospitals along the way, sharing the message of their transportation program, and providing children with a much needed gift; a special shirt.
Nares says the shirt snaps on the shoulder and sleeves and opens to one side where the Hickman catheter is. It's usually in the chest area were the child gets chemotherapy or their blood drawn.
A simple shirt means kids don't have to lift or remove their gowns, something Nares says can often times be traumatic.
Through the rain, the heat and the exhaustion, he delivered more than 200 shirts over two and half months, thinking of nothing other than his son.
"I think he'd be very proud but I also hear him say, we could do more," said Nares. "There's a lot of children suffering with cancer in hospitals across the country and our goal is to possibly expand these programs."
One run, one shirt at a time.