Former Olathe East football player runs 1.5 miles 9 years after TBI

Published: May. 29, 2023 at 8:38 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

We’ve all heard that phrase — but it’s become a way of life for former Olathe East football player James McGinnis since a life-altering day in 2014.

James suffered a subdural hematoma while making a tackle under the Friday night lights nine years ago.

He’s been working hard for this year’s Going the Distance for Brain Injury run.

“On a scale from 1-10, 11,” James said.

His road to recovery has been a long one. He was given a 7% chance at survival heading into surgery.

“Coming out of my coma, all I could do was move my right hand, so I made the ‘I love you’ symbol.”

He held that symbol high Memorial Day morning as he attempted his first 1.5-mile run since his injury.

“It was amazing,” Pat McGinnis, James’ dad, said. “I mean, it took him 9 months to walk on his own for the first time. Then, today, it’s 3,137 days to run a mile and a half. He used to run track, so that’s a part of getting back to normalcy for someone with a brain injury so when you achieve those accomplishments, they’re just special moments.”

James crossed the finish line with his dad by his side, symbolizing a big step in his miraculous recovery.

“He’s been a role model for me,” Pat said. “He’s never been angry, never been depressed, always positive, always trying to make the people around him laugh, wants to spread his message to love one another — and then for him to accomplish this on top of all that is really special.”

“It felt amazing,” James said. “I’m sure a year ago, you probably couldn’t see me doing this. I’m just happy to say I completed it.”