Tyson Waid’s time on this earth has been far too short.
He was just shy of his fourth birthday when he died on Christmas Eve 2020 from a rare and incurable form of brain cancer. This Greenback family, mom Maggie and dad Colt, made the most of every day together, said family friend Josie Sevelius.
“They created a lifetime of memories in such a short time,” she said.
Sevelius, who is a school counselor, grew up with Maggie in Greenback and they attended high school together. When Tyson was diagnosed, Sevelius said her heart ached. She had been given a similar diagnosis in 2011, finding out she had breast cancer when she was 25 and just four months after giving birth to her daughter.
Because it was detected at an early stage, Sevelius’ cancer was successfully treated and she went on to give birth to twins five years later. She was pregnant at the same time Maggie was pregnant with Tyson.
Shortly after Tyson’s diagnosis, Sevelius had the idea of hosting a 5K in the community she and the Waids love so much. And thus, the Tyson Tough 5k Race was born. That first year, it was held at Greenback School and raised $3,000. Last year, due to COVID, the event was held virtually. Many community members have signed on, Sevelius said.
Tyson was even able to be present at this first race, and all the money went to his family. After Tyson’s death, Sevelius asked Maggie and Colt if she could still run the race every year and donate the proceeds as scholarships to Greenback students going into the medical field.
“So many wonderful doctors and nurses have taken care of Tyson,” Sevelius said, “so that’s the point. However, we have a group of students applying and Maggie and Colt really choose a student they consider to be The most deserving They choose from the essays that the students have written.
The 2022 race is now on the calendar, scheduled for Saturday March 26 again at Greenback School. The race starts at 10 a.m. and registration is currently open. The cost to participate is $30.
Sevelius no longer resides in Greenback, but she visits there often. Her father, Dewayne Birchfield, is the mayor. She has lived in Maryland for three years and will soon be moving to North Carolina. Her husband is a sailor.
This cancer survivor wasn’t a runner until her ‘second life’ began. She said that for her there is more than a finish line. She laced her shoes for the first time and took to the sidewalk just a few years ago.
“To be honest, I lost part of my life when I was diagnosed,” Sevelius said. “It’s a part of me that I didn’t find before I started running. … There is something about a cancer diagnosis that certainly pushes a person to reach their full potential. As I ran, I found peace. I found loneliness. I found myself and found a way to help others by running for charity.
She remembers that first race where Tyson was there to assist with support. Sevelius said she told him that day that she would make his story count. The ripple effect of her short life could be the waves that could one day result in a cure, she said.
“Tyson’s story taught me that whether you live to be 3 or 100, it’s the impact you have on the lives of others that matters most.”
And while this event is called a race and runners are in demand, Sevelius said there are so many people signing up and participating because of Tyson.
“A lot of our runners aren’t runners at all,” she said. “They’re just normal, ordinary people who want to do something good.”
There are already 55 people who have registered. The more the merrier, said Sevelius. She said Maggie hopes her daughter will one day receive the scholarship in her brother’s name.
Because she is a cancer survivor, Sevelius said she has a deep connection with everyone who faces the same adversity. Cancer survivors, she says, stick together. If she can be an example for others, that’s something positive that came out of a horrible time in her life.
“I think we have life experiences that give us a platform to reach out to others,” said this wife, mother and cancer survivor. “Adversity always creates opportunity. That’s kind of what pushed me to help the Waid family. For my own life, I’ve always kind of visualized my survival as climbing a mountain. What good would it have been to reach the top and not show others that it could be done? I always wanted to show people that their stories could create change.