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In a place “where dreams come true,” one family has been experiencing just this.
Amy and Matt Kentner’s children, Eli, 14, Olivia, 13, and Emma, 12, have not only had the chance to visit Disney World several times, but they were able to run in a 5K and a half-marathon with their mother and grandparents.
All three of the children will have accomplished a goal — which is running a half-marathon by the age of 12 — and not just any half-marathon, but one in Disney World.
Each year, for the past six years, the children have been taking turns going to the vacation destination with their mother, Amy, to run in the 5K, and then the half-marathon, with the youngest, Emma, making the trip with her grandparents Karen and Dave Reichard, this year to complete her half-marathon.
“This is something that no one can take away,” Amy Kentner said of running with her children. “For me, it’s special to do it in one of my favorite places in the world.”
This is a fond memory that the children will look back upon as they grow older.
It all began in 2008 when Eli went to Disney World with his mother to run the Walt Disney World 5K, during the Walt Disney World marathon weekend, which is the second weekend in January. The next year Olivia had the opportunity, and then Emma ran in 2010.
When it came be to Eli’s turn again to travel to Disney World, he decided he wanted to run the half-marathon in 2011, and then in 2012 Olivia decided to also run the half-marathon on her year to travel there.
Now it is Emma’s turn, and she will get to run with mother and her grandmother in 2013.
“I’m looking forward to running it and stopping to take pictures with the characters,” Emma said.
Disney characters will line the course, and runners will be able to stop and grab quick pictures with characters of their choice.
Emma said she is looking forward to seeing Minnie and Mickey Mouse during her trip at the beginning of the year.
“I’m excited to do this,” Emma said.
Emma has been training for this race, with preparation at the Wapakoneta YMCA, working with Steve Knapke at F.I.R.E., which is a part of Kantner and West Chiropractic and running a course near her house rural Wapakoneta. She has spent many hours and early mornings of dedication to prepare for this race.
During the Disney World marathon weekend, Emma’s grandfather will be running the full marathon, which will be held on Sunday, along with Amy, who will run both the half-marathon and the full marathon. The half-marathon will take place on Jan. 12.
There are approximately 60,000 people who will be running and walking for all three races this year.
The Reichards, who live in Florida, noted they have began running races approximately nine years ago, and said each race has its own style.
“Every marathon has its own flavor,” Karen Reichard said. “Our first one was in Nashville.”
But she noted there is no place like Disney World.
“Especially when you hear Disney music play from all around,” Karen Reichard said. “There is nowhere else you can do that.”
Dave Reichard also notes it is special to be able to share the run with their grandchildren, and to be able to spend quality time with them.
“They help to keep us young,” Dave Reichard said. “There’s always that accomplishment to run with your grandchildren.”
Throughout these experiences, Amy Kentner not only has the opportunity to share her passion of running with her children, but she is showing them the importance of running for a cause.
Amy Kentner has run races to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which is what the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend benefits.
“It’s a nice thing to teach your children,” Amy Kentner said. “It sets a good example.”
Olivia recalls her experience last year during the Disney World half-marathon.
“I like to stop and take pictures with the characters,” Olivia said.
The race route begins at Epcot, going through the Magic Kingdom and then traveling around the castle and finishing near Epcot.
Eli said before each time they travel to Disney World, each one will run the Moulton Turkey Trot 5K with their father, Matt.
The family notes that their father has been a huge supporter in their lives.
“It’s fun,” Eli said of how he felt in 2011 before his big race. “Its more exciting beforehand.”
Eli shared that the excitement to run the race starts to rise before the actual race with all the final preparations.
“You are excited, but you think ‘I don’t know if I can do it,’ ” Eli said.
But he did, as he completed the half-marathon, and then Olivia completed the half-marathon in 2012, and now Emma is excited to tackle this goal next week.
Each child says they plan to stick with running, as each are active in sports, including cross country, track and soccer.