On a sunny Friday afternoon in October, 10-year-old Niall McDermott raced along the dirt path surrounding the Polo Field in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.
His pace (a notch above 7 minutes per mile) would have all but the most experienced of runners gasping for breath in a matter of seconds. Still, this 5th-grader covered his 3.1-mile run that day with relative ease.
Just like he had done the day before.
And the day before that.
And every single day since August 26th.
Niall was close to completing an audacious goal he had set for himself: a 5K every day for 50 straight days. Along the way, he is raising money for the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation. That part has of his quest has to do with his grandfather.
"I know that he got diagnosed with lung cancer in June," Niall said.
"It's incredibly touching, of course," Maggie McDermott, Niall's mother, said. "It shows his love and care for his grandfather."
The running goal, however, is one that even Niall wondered if he could attain.
"When I came up the idea I thought I wouldn't be able to do it," Niall said.
His father, Ryan, had his doubts as well. "No, I thought there would be multiple spots where he would have to stop," Ryan said.
Niall, however, never did stop. He never missed a day, even running a 5k on a day when his stomach was bothering him so much he stayed home from school. "Never once did we say, 'Niall, get out there and run.' He was self-motivated and did it all by himself," Ryan said.
Niall was inspired to challenge himself after watching a documentary about the Iron Cowboy, a man who had completed 50 triathlons in 50 states in 50 days.
Niall's final 5K took place on October 14th along San Francisco's Crissy Field. By the time he crossed the finish line that day, Niall had already surpassed his fundraising goal of $3,000 by more than $1,000.
"I'm both happy and excited," Niall said after crossing the finish line. "And tired."