Team Micah smiles for miles at race

DALLAS -- Motivation comes in many forms for the expected 20,000 that roll out of a warm bed to run city steets in Sunday's MetroPCS White Rock Marathon.

For the Diffee family of Forney, participation in the race is a way of giving back.

Michelle and Jon Diffee's middle child, 5-year-old Micah, was born with abnormal development of the lower spine. He became a patient of Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, since 1997 the White Rock Marathon's beneficiary, when he was four months old.

At any other hospital, Michelle Diffee estimated her son's cost of care thus far would be around $500,000. But Texas Scottish Rite does not charge patient's parents for treatment.

40th White Rock Marathon

    Time: 8 a.m. Sunday
    Start/finish site: American Airlines Center/Victory Park (Event includes a half marathon and relay race)
    Course: Winds through Victory Park, Lakewood, Uptown, White Rock Lake and Highland Park.
    Benefits: Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children
    Expected entrants: 20,000 (6,000 for marathon, 10,000 for half marathon, 800 teams for five-man relay)

Four years ago, when Michelle started looking for ways to give back to the hospital, she learned of White Rock Marathon's association with the facility.

The Diffee family and friends became runners, and Team Micah was formed.

"The hospital is just so amazing,'' said Michelle, who works in sales in Garland. "Micah's had the best of the best in care. We needed a way to tell them 'Thank You.' So every year, we kill ourselves running this race.''

Team Micah members wear customized yellow shirts -- Micah's favorite color. The team includes Micah's firefighter dad Jon, older brother Tanner (age seven) and 2-year-old sister GeriAnna, who will be attending the race for the first time.

The team started with six members in 2006 and has grown to 41. So far, Team Micah has raised $26,000 for the hospital with at least an additional $9,000 coming this year.

Tammy Baugh, a neighbor of the Diffee family, will again be part of Team Micah. She will be running the half-marathon.

"It's a great feeling to be a part of something special,'' Baugh said. "I adore Micah and his family. It is an honor to be asked to be a part of it.''

Since Team Micah was formed, Baugh has missed only once, when she gave birth 10 days before the race.

Said Baugh: "Michelle let me slide that year.''

Michelle said Team Micah welcomes anyone that wants to join the cause. More information is available at the team website: http://www.active.com/donate/tsrh09/teammicah09.

Although Micah doesn't have the use of his legs, Team Micah's main man plans to compete for the first time in the Mayor's Race 5K Fun Run and Walk on Saturday. He has a special yellow racing chair.

"Micah will never cross the finish line on foot,'' his mother said, "but everybody on his team wants to do it for him.''

Race notes: Sunday's forecasted high temperature of 72 degrees under sunny skies could prove more comfortable for spectators than runners. Last year's race was hampered by 25 mph winds that helped generate some of the slowest winning times in recent years. ... Race officials are asking runners to arrive 90 minutes before the 8 a.m. starting time.