Peter Kline, a Bellevue, Wash.-based financial advisor with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, got into running the hard way – by training for a marathon at age 52, while overweight and out of shape. He was only starting to develop a passion for the sport when a friend diagnosed with brain cancer asked him to run the Boston Marathon as a fundraiser. From then on, running was not a solitary endeavor; Kline began seeking opportunities to run for the benefit of others.
He started running for those who can’t, particularly special needs children and their families. During his eighth time running the Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon in 2012, Kline invited a young girl with cerebral palsy to share the experience with him – giving her the thrill of completing a major athletic event for the first time in her life. He has continued to push rider-athletes in specially modified strollers, with support from Bank of America Merrill Lynch teammates and Ainsley’s Angels of America.
Kline’s “Marathons with Meaning” inspired Seattle resident Rachel McKean to run with him and her son, Jackson, in the Seattle and Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll marathons. “Words cannot express how much running with Peter means to us,” McKean said. “Sometimes, we get so entrenched in Jackson's basic care and appointments that there’s no energy left to find things for him to do. When something like this comes along, with people who care so much and are able to give Jackson opportunities to try new things, it’s priceless.”
On November 15, 2014, Peter ran his most impressive distance yet – a 100-mile “ultra marathon” starting with 73.8 miles on the University of Las Vegas track and culminating with the 26.2-mile Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon. In under 24 hours, Peter pushed nine rider-athletes and shared his purpose with many others – from a 3:00 a.m. run with a single father, to a blackjack dealer participating after a long shift and the thousands of other Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon runners.
Anthony DeBlasi, Bank of America’s Washington State president, also traveled to Las Vegas to run with Kline. “Peter embodies our core value of working together to improve lives and make meaningful connections. His passion affects not only the children and families he runs with, but other runners,” DeBlasi said. “He’s an inspiration for us all.”
Kline’s contribution of a shared, purposeful experience is a gift to the children and families he works with, and to the community of runners growing around him. “I’m glad I can help people find an outlet – showing them healthy ways to channel their energy to do something good. We’re all better together,” he said.
Bank of America Chicago Marathon: A new opportunity
For the 2015 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Kline set out to accomplish a feat not yet attained in the history of the race. Kline was awarded one of six rider-runner slots in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, the first time the event offered this entry type.
With the opportunity to include someone who would normally not be able to participate in a marathon, Kline reached out to his Chicago colleagues to help identify a Chicagoland-based participant. Through connections with Special Children’s Charities, Kline was connected with Peter Ruiz, a nine sport Special Olympics athlete, and Team Peter was formed.
To train, Kline added extra weight to the jogger he typically uses as Ruiz is one of the few adults he has ever pushed. Although he knew this race would be challenging, since he’s used to pushing children versus adults, he wasn’t in it to run for himself; he ran for Ruiz, for those who can’t run marathons and to help motivate and inspire others.
"The race isn’t about me, it’s about Peter and what he gets out of it," said Kline. "We’re finishing with people who are really struggling, and they get motivated by seeing us. They think 'if you can make it, we can make it too.'" For Kline, his mantra is all about inclusion and completion.
Team Peter finished the 2015 Bank of America Chicago Marathon in 5:13:20, and are both extremely proud of their accomplishment together. Kline gave Ruiz an opportunity he never thought would be possible, completing the world-renowned Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Following the race, Kline donated the jogger used in the race to Special Children’s Charities.