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April 26, 2013

USAO athlete reaches out through running

— Whether for fitness, weight loss or the challenge, running is a part of every athlete’s life. Inspired by the medical challenges facing the infant daughter of a dear friend, USAO’s Scott Parkinson hopes to turn running into something personal that can transform her life.

Parkinson, a soccer senior at USAO and Chickasha High School’s boys soccer coach, is running Sunday’s Oklahoma City Memorial Half-Marathon to help raise money to offset the cost of delivering life-saving treatments to his friend’s daughter.

Tommy Riley, women’s soccer coach at Saint Gregory’s, and his wife, Kellie, were blessed with a daughter less than a year ago. Unfortunately, baby Olivia has battled a heart defect all of her short life.

Olivia already has proven to be a fighter, shining her adorable smile every day, even after having open-heart surgery at just six months old. Parkinson and Neil Hilton, a friend assistant women’s soccer coach at Oklahoma Christian, decided they wanted to do something to help raise money for the inspirational family.

“Basically, we knew that the medical bills were just racking up and racking up even though they were insured. We just decided that me and Neil would get together to help baby Olivia out any way possible,” Parkinson explained. “We just wanted to give them something to help them in any way to get through what they are going through.”

The two immediately set up an online donation site and began training for the annual Memorial Marathon.

Baby Olivia’s Battle

Olivia was born last year with a heart condition known as tetralogy of Fallot. The rare condition is caused by a combination of four heart defects. With it, infants develop a blue-tinged skin because not enough blood is able to reach the lungs for oxygen.

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