National News

Mar 19, 2013 1:25 PM by NBC News

Single father battling brain cancer wins marathon while pushing daughter in stroller

(KXAN) A father-daughter duo from Austin pulled off an unlikely feat this past weekend at a marathon in Beaumont, Texas.

It's a memory the two winners will hope will last a lifetime.

Iram Leon and his 6-year-old daughter Kiana stood out at last week's Gusher Marathon in Beaumont. For starters, Leon had to get special permission to push his daughter's stroller during the race.

"They initially said no, and then they said the slept on it," Leon said, "and to let me in was a no-brainer, which I love the joke, you know."

The "no-brainer" joke takes on added meaning when you learn Leon is a 32-year-old single dad, and has brain cancer.

"Living is like running," Leon said. "I'm probably going to be faster and get to the finish line."

Doctors told Leon his "finish line" could come before he turns 40. The cancer is eating away at his memory.

He can no longer drive a car, but he has zero problems running. Leon said it's a perfect day when he's able to raise his daughter, and go out and run.

"I snuck out of the hospital to go running before the biopsy," Leon said. "I put off brain surgery to run a marathon. Obviously it's my coping mechanism."

The event in Beaumont was his seventh marathon.

"The one thing I hope to never have on my record is what they call 'DNF', did not finish," Leon said.

The bonding time with his daughter kept him going.

"We play Disney songs, and there are some great ones," Leon said. "There's one 'I Can Go The Distance' and 'The Time of Your Life, So So It Well."

Iram and Kiana sang all the way to the first place spot.

"And it ended up being literally one second slower than my fastest one ever," Leon said.

"This thing spins," said Kiana as she admired the winner's trophy from the Gusher Marathon.

More precious than the victory medal is spending priceless time with his daughter.

"That's what I ask at all my doctor's appointments, 'Can I keep running? And am I still fit to raise a kid?'" Leon said. "Everything else is negotiable. I mean, it's a perfect day when they combine."

Following the race in Beaumont, the marathon organization set up a website to help the family . The money that is raised will be put into scholarship fund for Kiana.

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