12-year-old completes third Honolulu Marathon in honor of late grandfather

INspirational People

For Harold and Riley Herradura, father and son time usually revolves around stretching and running. Lots of running.

Two Sundays ago they both completed the Honolulu Marathon.

For 12-year-old Riley, who completed his third straight Honolulu Marathon, it is far more than just a 26.2 mile race. For him, the journey is much more personal.

“To honor my papa. My grandpa, he passed away in 2016,” he said.

Even before he lost his grandpa or “Papa,” Riley was already an accomplished runner, having taken part in several half marathon races.

But he wanted something more challenging. Something big and bold. Just like Papa.

“I wanted to honor him because he was a strong person and I wanted to do something tough for him,” he said. “He was very special to me. I loved him very much.”

“From 2014 to 2016, it was very dark. It was a very dark time for my family. My dad was diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer,” said Riley’s mother, Phelia Herradura.

Making matters more difficult for Phelia and her sisters is the fact that their father lived on Guam. They took turns flying there to help.

“It was very depressing and Riley came with me some of those trips in the hospital. He was in the hospital with Papa, and I noticed that when we mentioned anything about his grandchildren, he would light up,” said Phelia.

Apparently Riley noticed too. When he said he wanted to run a marathon in Papa’s honor, Phelia responded: “First of all, I said, are you serious?”

Turns out, he was very serious, so Mom got him cleared by the family’s pediatrician and Riley set out to run his first Honolulu Marathon, then at the age of 10.

“We were very honored that he wanted to do something for his Papa,” Phelia said.

“For such a young man at his age wanting to do this for Papa, Papa was very inspirational for Riley. It’s just a good feeling to know he’s doing something really big for him,” said Harold Herradura.

When asked what he thought Papa would say, Riley replied, “I think he would feel happy, because I’m doing something for him.”

Riley admits running a marathon isn’t easy, but he says it’s well worth every step he takes to spread his message.

“Cancer can and will kill someone, and you can prevent that,” he said. “I want to say to anybody up there that can achieve anything as long as you have the right mindset. … I didn’t really think about inspiration. I just thought about honoring my Papa.”

It’s an honor for Mom as well, who marvels every time he crosses the finish line. 

“It’s a very special moment. I remember the very first marathon. I said run for Papa and toward the end the finish line, there was like a moth that hovered next to me. For a long time, nobody else, just me, and I am wondering maybe that was Papa watching too. Special, it was really special.”

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