Cov­ing­ton busi­ness­man runs for lost boy

Joe Ur­ban is run­ning 100 miles in 30 hours to raise money for re­search into the can­cer that killed 9-year-old Austin Tay­lor

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - ROB DEWIG rdewig@cov­news.com

A year ago, Joe Ur­ban chose to do some­thing for a co-worker’s young son with can­cer — run 100 miles, non­stop, in the Colorado Rock­ies. To raise money for a fund set up in the boy’s name.

“Yes, it is crazy to run 100 miles, I re­al­ize that,” he said. “It is not nat­u­ral, it doesn’t seem to be what the body was de­signed to do, but nei­ther is a child be­ing di­ag­nosed with can­cer at two years of age.”

The boy’s name was Austin Tay­lor. He lost his bat­tle with can­cer on July 1. He was 9.

Be­fore Austin’s death, Ur­ban would present the medals he’d earned as he trained for the big­gie to boy — a 5K, a 10K, a 37-mile ul­tra­ma­rathon, a 50-miler in Alabama, and a 60-mile prep run in Leadville, Colorado, to learn some of the 10,000-foot-high course he’s run­ning this week­end.

Ur­ban said he’d “in­tended to give him the Leadville awards as well,” but with Austin’s death he’ll present the awards to the boy’s fam­ily, in­stead.

Ur­ban is prob­a­bly run­ning as you read this. The race be­gan Satur­day in Colorado, and 30 hours will carry him well into to­day. He’s set out with a goal to raise $10,000 for a fund set up in Austin’s name. He reached that long ago, “faster than I had ever thought was pos­si­ble.”

Ur­ban said he “learned a very im­por­tant les­son – don’t limit your­self, whether it is the be­lief that you can achieve some­thing crazy like run­ning 100 miles, or rais­ing $10,000 for a char­ity in a year.”

The money will go to the Cure Child Can­cer or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Ur­ban, from At­lanta’s north­ern sub­urbs, works at Bard Med­i­cal in Cov­ing­ton with Austin’s mother, Rhonda Tay­lor. Ur­ban is Bard’s direc­tor of global mar­ket­ing for in­ter­na­tional urol­ogy.

Austin had neu­rob­las­toma, stage IV, and early treat­ment re­duced his can­cer to NED stage (no ev­i­dence of dis­ease) in Novem­ber 2008. But in De­cem­ber 2012, can­cer was di­ag­nosed again. It opened Ur­ban’s eyes.

“Through Rhonda, Austin and the Tay­lor fam­ily, my fam­ily has be­come more aware of the chal­lenges that face chil­dren bat­tling can­cer, the lack of pe­di­atric care avail­able, and the lack of re­search and sup­port avail­able for fam­i­lies,” Ur­ban said.

The At­lanta-based Cure Child­hood Can­cer or­ga­ni­za­tion is ded­i­cated to tar­geted re­search and sup­port of fam­i­lies and pa­tients. Here are some scary facts from the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s data­base: Can­cer is the fore­most rea­son for death by dis­ease in chil­dren; three of five chil­dren suf­fer long-term side ef­fects from can­cer; and just 3 per­cent of fed­eral fund­ing is fo­cused on child­hood can­cers, which are dif­fer­ent from adult can­cers.

Ur­ban signed up for the Leadville 100 on Jan. 1.

“You may be won­der­ing why I chose one of the world’s hard­est 100 mile races to run. Why not a marathon? Or even two marathons? Quite sim­ply: Be­cause I can,” he wrote on the Austin Tay­lor Chal­lenge web­site at www.first­giv­ing.com.

“‘I can’ is a state­ment I have come to un­der­stand as the bless­ing that it truly is. And if Austin ... can fight can­cer for the sec­ond time in his life and go through rounds of treat­ments and bone mar­row har­vest­ing, all while be­ing the sweet, won­der­ful kid he is, then I can run 100 miles.” It’s not been easy – not even close. “Early morn­ing and late night runs, di­etary and nu­tri­tional mod­i­fi­ca­tions, in­juries, time away from the fam­ily to train, but it was Austin’s brav­ery and courage … that was so in­spir­ing. At times, when I was ex­hausted or hurt, I thought of Austin and how tough he was to face can­cer head on day in and day out.”

Austin’s death is tragic, but doesn’t change Ur­ban’s plans: “I made a com­mit­ment last year to fight for Austin, and now I am mak­ing a com­mit­ment to con­tinue this fight.”

Bard direc­tor De­bra Grif­fith still can’t quite be­lieve what Ur­ban has pulled off.

“When Joe first told me what he was go­ing to do, I felt cer­tain it was one of those 100-miles-in-five-days kinds of events,” she said Fri­day. “Then when he clar­i­fied ‘Nope, it is 100 miles in 30 hours’ I was ren­dered speech­less due to the sheer enor­mity of that task and to his com­mit­ment to the cause.

“What a re­mark­able ges­ture for one hu­man be­ing to do for another. Though he will be there in spirit, I wish Austin was still with us to meet Joe at the fin­ish line in person on Sun­day!”

Rhonda Tay­lor, Austin’s mom, could not be reached for com­ment.

On the first­giv­ing.com web­site, Austin’s grand­par­ents, Caro­line and John Tay­lor, do­nated $100 and wrote: “‘I can’ was his (Austin’s) idea of life, try­ing any­thing and now (he) has a sport on the An­gels’ team. He was an awe­some grand­son whom we love and miss.”

Ste­fano and Kim­berly Car­bonara also do­nated, $250 in their case: “We ap­pre­ci­ate be­ing a part of your hero­ics Joe! Good luck to you and God speed!”

Speed is im­por­tant. En­durance is more – both when it comes to run­ning 100 miles and de­feat­ing child­hood can­cers.

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