Lota Ward was just 7 years old when he ran his first half marathon, and he was hooked instantly.
The youngster from Utah soon ran three more and quickly set his sights on longer distances. He even started running for a cause, taking pledges to help another local kid get a new wheelchair.
Then his world was turned upside down. His parents noticed some troubling symptoms and took him to a doctor, who urged them to get an MRI immediately. Their worst fears were realized when the MRI showed he had a brain tumor pushing at his eyes from the inside.
Three surgeries later, Lota seemed to be OK and his doctor gave the family permission to let him run again, as long as he felt up to it.
But he didn’t just want to run — he wanted to run a 50-mile race with his dad, an ultra runner who Lota developed his love of running from as he trained with his son for fun.
About a month before that 50-mile race, it was determined the tumor had grown again and another surgery was needed. The surgery was set for three days after the race, but Lota insisted on running it anyway. He finished 33 miles of the 50-mile course, then braced for another surgery.
This procedure left him in far worse condition than the previous surgeries had and his recovery from it was much more difficult. He eventually had a fifth surgery in November, a procedure that had never been tried on a child that young in Utah, and the family has been encouraged by the results.
Now, he’s running again, and the family’s outlook for young Lota is much improved.
You can watch the video above, narrated by actor Fred Savage, to learn more about Lota Ward’s story.