By Jennifer Mayerle

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Sometimes, legacy means finishing someone else’s race. That’s what one dad will do this weekend as he runs the Twin Cities Marathon.

Mike Donley will run in honor of his son, Lewis, who killed himself in December of 2016.

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Donley says Lew wanted to finish a marathon and change people’s lives through fundraising to bring clean water to kids in Africa.

“I’ve been training since April, thinking about him and remember him as I do it,” Donley said. “Lewis was funny, he was creative, he loved fishing, he loved music, he had a beautiful singing voice.”

But Lew also struggled with anger, impulsivity and depression.

Five days after Lew’s 16th birthday, the teen with a quiet kindness, who looked out for the little guy, killed himself.

“He just kind of lost his hope and lost his focus and he was a kid,” Donley said. “He just made a rash decision and his life was over.”

Mere months earlier, a stranger saved Lew from drowning in Lake Phalen.

He went in after his favorite fishing lure and got tangled in weeds. His family thought this heroic act of courage would give Lew hope in his own life, and for a while it seemed to.

“We just miss him terribly,” Donley said. “He was someone who had a second chance at life and it didn’t stick.”

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He feels now is the time to put one foot in front of the other. Lew helped his dad train for his last marathon.

“He signed up for the next marathon, said, ‘I’m doing it.’ And he never got to run that race,” Donley said.

And so, Donley pledges to finish his son’s race. He’ll run for Lew’s legacy, and along the way, he’ll remember the words he sang.

“‘When you’re weak, I’ll be strong,’ and sometimes when I’m running and I feel like I don’t have the strength to do it, I think of his voice singing that line and it helps,” Donley said.

Donley asks you to help him shatter the amount he previously raised for Team World Vision, as a part of Lew’s Legacy. Here’s a link to his fundraising page.

For those suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts, there is help available at the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Call 1-800-273-8255.

Also available is the hotline from the National Alliance on Mental Illness at 651-645-2948.

Or, the Twin Cities has several crisis lines:

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Anoka 763-755-3801
Carver/Scott 952-442-7601
Dakota 952-891-7171
Washington 651-777-5222
Hennepin Adult 612-596-1223
Hennepin Child 612-348-2233
Ramsey Adult 651-266-7900

Jennifer Mayerle