Students run Houston Half Marathon in honor of Will McKone (’20)


Emily Sedgwick

Sophomore Thomas Chang and juniors Travis Ho and Aidan Aguilar wore their “Where there’s a Will, there’s a way” T-shirts to honor McKone.

As Travis Ho entered the 12th mile of the Houston Half Marathon, fatigue began to set in. Despite his burning legs and ragged breath, Ho pushed on, drawing his strength from memories of his friend Will McKone (’20), who passed away in November after a long battle with an inoperable brain tumor.

Ho, a junior, had already planned to run the Half Marathon with junior Aidan Aguilar and sophomore Thomas Chang several months before Will’s death. When they learned about complications with Will’s tumor, the three students decided to run in Will’s honor. Ho, Aguilar and Chang wore their “Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way” T-shirts during the race.

“We wanted to raise support for Will and his family, as well as the foundation that helped him throughout his treatment,” Ho said.

Ho, who had trained for the race for several months, cited the tragedy as a significant motivator in preparing for the Half Marathon.

“When Will passed away, it sparked something inside me,” Ho said. “I hadn’t enjoyed taking time out of my day to run, but after it happened, I realized, ‘I really have to run this race, and I want to run it for Will.’ From that point on, I made sure to train as much and as often as possible, and I pushed myself even harder when I ran.”

Juliet Chang
Ho, Chang and Aguilar run past spectators cheering Will’s name.

During the Half Marathon, the runners’ T-shirts drew support from runners and spectators alike. Ho, Aguilar and Chang heard many spectators shout encouraging phrases like “Go Will McKone!” throughout the race. They also met another runner, who turned out to be the McKones’ neighbor, wearing the same blue T-shirt. Aguilar also sent photos of the race to Will’s father, who expressed his appreciation for the three runners’ support.

“[Will] knew so many people because he made everyone feel like they were close to him,” Aguilar said. “So many people liked him because he was nice to everyone he met, and I was so proud to see all of those people at the race cheer him on and have so many fond memories of him.”

The months following the tragedy were especially difficult for Ho and Aguilar, who were close friends with Will. For Aguilar, grief came in waves: He would feel “fine” some weeks, while other weeks were “tough to handle.”

“The memorial service weekend was tough, but running the Half Marathon helped us honor him, and it helped me through this whole tragedy,” he said.

Despite their initial apprehension at running 13.1 miles, Ho described finishing the Half Marathon as “one of the best moments of [his] life,” while Aguilar felt “triumphant” after the race. Memories of Will and his positive attitude proved invaluable for the three runners. According to Aguilar, “keeping [Will’s smile] even when the race got tough” helped him push through the grueling final stretch of the race.

Will’s father echoed this sentiment in Will’s memorial service on Jan. 18, urging the community to keep Will’s memory alive by embodying his positivity and courage. According to Ho, thinking about Will’s strength throughout treatment has helped Ho find strength in his own life.

“We realized that since Will was always so happy, he’d want us to be happy,” Ho said. “I tried to stay as positive as possible during the race, and, even now, I try to find motivation from Will when things get hard for me.”

For more about Will’s life and contributions to the School, click here.