Onward Shay! Marathon gives back to community

This event is all about giving back to the community.

BOISE - A relatively new marathon is happening next month in Boise -- the Onward Shay! Marathon.

Unlike most other races in the Treasure Valley, this marathon is named after a Boise native who was passionate about running and giving back.

Shay Hirsch was born and raised in Boise. She is the daughter of Pat and Morley Nelson.

She graduated from Boise High School in 1965 and worked as the director of the YMCA women's shelter, now known as the Women's and Children's Alliance.

Shay was also a runner.

"Shay I think touched a lot of lives in a very special way. She was very kind and beautiful and generous," said Shay's husband George Hirsch.

She met George Hirsch, an accomplished magazine publisher and Olympic commentator, at a marathon expo in New Jersey.

After they first talked, he ended up running the race just to get to know her.

The two eventually married and kept running. But a cancer diagnosis changed things.

Shay battled multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, for more than a decade. She passed away last year at age 66.

"Betsy had an idea to start a marathon in Boise in Shay's honor," said George.

"Shay Hirsch was a Boise girl," said Betsy Luce.

Friend Betsy Luce used to run with Shay.

"So this race is in memory of her and it's a gift really to Boise. That's why Jan and I are doing this. It's a huge opportunity to give something of great value," said Betsy Luce.

The 26.2 mile course will wind through the North End and downtown Boise. Part of the race will be on the Greenbelt, too.

"So the whole idea is to showcase Boises," said Jan Bastian, race organizer and Shay’s friend.

It's designed to be flat and fast.

The race draws runners from across the U.S. as a certified Boston Marathon qualifier.

Leaders at the Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau say that's big.

"They have a good connection with New York City Road Runners. They definitely have a national appeal," said Carrie Westergard with the Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Shay's husband says it's the perfect way to honor his late wife.

"I think it has the potential to be something very special," said George.

All in the name of Shay!

The Onward Shay! Marathon is set for October 29.

One-hundred percent of the proceeds from the Onward Shay! 5K, 10K, half and full marathon will go to several community service projects and charities, including the Women's and Children's Alliance, Children's Home Society of Idaho, and "RODS" Racing for Orphans with Down Syndrome.

For more information and to register click here.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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