AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — A cross-country run on behalf of frontline workers was tragically cut short, but runner Grady Lambert will live on through organ donation.
Mark and Julie Lambert said their son Grady was on a months-long run from Cannon Beach, Oregon to Hilton Head, South Carolina.
“Grady was on a mission to run across America and stop at as many hospitals as he could to thank the staff for all that they’ve done during COVID, and that was his basic mission,” Julie said.
After his stop in Amarillo, Grady was running on FM 2575 outside of the city when he was hit on Sunday night.
“He’s been running alongside I-40, a lot of Route 66, and this particular leg, just east of Amarillo was a farm to market 2575 which could be considered a service road to I-40,” said Mark. “And that that short stretch he was on, that particular service road did not have a shoulder. And so whether it was the shoulder there or not, he always ran against the traffic for his safety and that of vehicles as well.”
Julie said the truck was coming up a small hill and the driver was temporarily blinded by the sun. She said Grady and the driver both swerved in the same direction.
The Lamberts said Grady will not survive his injuries, and he was an organ donor.
“We are in the process of that waiting time between when we’ve made the decision and when the matches have been made. So that takes three or four days. So we’re in that timeframe,” Julie said, noting his organs, bones, skin, and more will be able to be donated. “And we’re not surprised. He is a compassionate young man and he would want to keep giving that way.”
Before he got to Amarillo, Grady traveled through Oregon, California, Arizona, and New Mexico.
The Lamberts said Grady was inspired by two things, his sister-in-law who is a healthcare worker, and stories from others in extremely difficult positions during the height of Covid.
He met and thanked many people on his run.
More on Grady Lambert’s journey can be found here.
Julie recalled a frank conversation she had with Grady back in January, saying, “I said, ‘This is… what you’re undertaking is dangerous. What do you want me to do if something happens?’ And he said, ‘I’m finishing this run one way or the other.’ He said, ‘You take my ashes, and you finish my run for me.’ So at some point, Mark and I, we won’t run it, but we’ll drive it and spread his ashes from the east of Amarillo to Hilton Head Island.”
They said Grady was a compassionate young man who would want to keep giving to others, and now he will.
“His last act on Earth, giving the gift of life or organ donation is, you know, pretty much a continuation of how we’ve learned Grady lived his life. He is a generous soul,” said Lauren Quinn, the Vice President of External Relations for Life Gift.
Quinn said Life Gift does not know how many gifts Grady will be able to give yet, but one organ donor can save the lives of up to 8 people and a tissue donor can save the lives of up to 75 people.
“Grady’s legacy on earth is going to be saving the lives of people that he didn’t know and never met and I think it’s a real testament to who Grady is,” Quinn said.
The Lamberts continue on, knowing Grady will be remembered for all of the qualities he embodies during his cross-country run.
“When they think of Grady, think of being kind, being compassionate. Think of supporting the underdog think of,” Julie trailed off. “…Giving to others,” Mark finished. “Ask people what their story is. And listen.”
Another big supporter of Grady’s mission was Nick Lowery, a former kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs, who had learned about his run and what it stood for. Lowery met Grady in Flagstaff, Arizona at one of the hospitals on his stop.
“The more I learned about Grady, the more I got to know him—it’s rare when someone has that pure of a set of motives to simply say, ‘I’ve been and we’ve all been through so much in the last couple of years, we’ve got to do something to honor our frontline workers and our first responders. And I’m I’m going to just run I’m going to run almost every day, sometimes more than a marathon probably three to four days 20 to 25 miles, sometimes more across the desert in the heat of Arizona and California,'” Lowery said. “Just a truly pure, beautiful gesture from a beautiful soul and I can’t think of anything frankly more beautiful and more tragic than what took place on Sunday night.”
Lowery had plans to meet up with Grady in a few weeks to amplify that message of giving.
“To me, the message that is at the core of Grady’s journey, is everybody can do something, even if it’s anonymously, to make the world a better place,” Lowery continued. “I hope that people watching this and that learn about Grady’s mission will honor him in their own way, and just maybe need that little bit more encouragement to realize if Grady could do it, so can I.”
The Lamberts also set up a scholarship fund in Grady’s name at the Stillwater Medical Foundation in Oklahoma to financially support young people who have chosen healthcare as their profession.
Click here for Grady’s Gofundme page.