Local man runs in New York City Marathon to pay tribute to his siblings who died
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IDAHO FALLS — An Idaho falls man ran in the New York City Marathon Sunday, and while crossing the finish line was an accomplishment, it’s who he ran for that made the race special.
Joseph Campbell, 48, has five siblings, but two of them died from cystic fibrosis. The inherited disorder causes severe damage to the lungs, digestive system and other organs in the body, according to the Mayo Clinic. His brother Perrin died in 2001 at 26 years old, and his sister Becky died in 2008 at 38.
“When both of them were born, they (doctors) weren’t expecting they’d survive past about 10 years of age, but the technology and treatments kept improving, so they were able to extend that,” Campbell explained.
Campbell grew up doing bike-a-thons for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, an organization dedicated to finding a cure. He was eventually influenced by his coworkers at the Idaho National Laboratory to start long-distance running, and he ran his first half marathon in 2013.
He took his running ability a step further by running for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in the NYC Marathon in 2017 and 2021. The marathon is 26.2 miles and is the largest marathon in the world.
Both years he had to raise at least $3,000 — all the funds went to the foundation — to have a spot on the team. Campbell mentioned the INL and his coworkers, Bingham Memorial Hospital, friends and family helped him in his fundraising efforts.
“It’s (done) in their memory,” Campbell said regarding the race and his siblings. “And it’s (done in) the hope that you can help other families that have had to go through that. … If they’re born into a family that doesn’t have good access to healthcare, it can be devastating.”
Campbell remembers what his siblings went through and the pain and challenges they had to deal with, all while knowing that sooner or later, “it’s going to get them.”
“With both my brother and my sister, it was such an inspiration to me how they could … keep the fight going for so long,” he said. “The marathon is a great way to do that. It’s all about the same game. You’re exhausted. … Your body is saying, ‘No, you got to stop this.’ But can you summon that little bit of will to get across the finish line?”
Campbell has run in other races such as The Teton Dam Marathon, but he said, “there’s not any comparison” with the NYC Marathon.
Originally, he thought this was going to be the last full marathon he’d participate in, but he told EastIdahoNews.com he might change his mind and keep going “until my knees tell me to stop.”
“It was quite the experience.”