Special Report: Changing the Ending Part 2

“I just grew up remembering all those little moments where an adult was there for me, that’s the power of Big Brothers,” said Tony Anderson.

In Part 1 of our Special Report: Changing the Ending, we introduced you to Tony Anderson and his journey to run a marathon in every state but we also told you that his mission is about so much more than just crossing the finish line…

October 13th 1963.

A 10 by 50 mobile home.

26.2 miles in every state.

A record time of three hours and 47 minutes.

These are all significant numbers in Tony Anderson’s life but together, they add up to two life changing numbers.

“When he completes his final marathon, he will have raised over a half a million dollars and really what that equates to is about 420 kids that Tony Anderson alone is responsible for,” said Cecilia Chesney, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Michigan.

Tony joined the board at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Michigan in 2005.

Because of his past, he originally didn’t want to ask people for money.

Instead he gave his time by mentoring two little brothers over the years.

“I grew up in a single parent home,” said Tony. “I felt like I knew what these kids need and I felt like that was my contribution to the organization.”

But his attitude toward fundraising changed in 2009.

“Running marathons are hard, asking people for money in my mind at that time was hard, so I felt like the two went together,” he said.

Tony started Marathon 4 Kids, helping him find his “why”.

“Nobody can go back and change their beginning but anyone can start today and change the ending.”

And that’s what he has done for 420 kids.

“When an adult cares, listens and believes in a kid, that’s when the ending starts to change,” said Tony.

That includes Jon, his little brother since 2012.

“There’s a bunch of things he’s taught me,” said Jon Remeta. “Always work hard, follow your dreams, he helps me figure out what classes I should take so I can graduate.”

But as much as Tony has helped Jon over the years…

“He’s basically family,” said Jon. “I’ve known him for so long and we’ve talked about so much stuff that’s gone down in my life and he’s helped me through it.”

Jon has also taught his big brother a thing or two.

“They help you realize that life really is the simple things,” said Tony. “It’s not the big things, it’s not the houses we have or the cars we drive, it’s just being there for each other.”

Tony’s now training to cross that final finish line in May

He said “if you would have told me when I was growing up that I would run one marathon, it would have been when pigs fly, 50 marathons, would have been when pigs fly.”

So what better way to end this chapter, than by running the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati?

“The first big brother ever was in Cincinnati Ohio so there’s just multiple reasons that the last one has to be Ohio.”

You may be wondering what’s next for the man who’s dedicated his life to others.

Tony’s answer?

“My standard answer today is less.”

Less running, more time with his wife, kids and grandkids.

“The types of struggles he’s had to go through and the type of life he’s lead so that I could be at the point we’re I’m at, I just admire him for it and I’m grateful for him every day,” said his son Andrew Anderson.

“He is leaving such an amazing legacy to Big Brothers Big Sisters, he will never ever be forgotten, he will always be part of us,” said Cecilia. “He’s a hometown hero.”

“I don’t know if this could have happened in any other community besides Traverse City but fortunately my life journey lead me here,” said Tony.

While Tony’s journey will soon take on another path, it’s far from over as he continues to inspire others to make a difference in someone’s life.

“I just want people to remember and never forget that when you change the ending for one kid, you can change the next generation after that,” said Tony. “There’s a snowball effect that comes with mentoring a child and changing that ending, that people should never forget.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Michigan is now working to raise another half million dollars, before Tony’s Flying Pig marathon in May.

Click here for more information on how you can get involved and support Marathon 4 Kids.

You can also follow along on Tony’s journey here, where he posts daily updates.