Video: Opinion | The Life of Calvin Haworth, a Veteran Who Helped Raise His Granddaughters After Unspeakable Loss

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[MUSIC PLAYING] [GIGGLING] “OK, well, you can just start by giving us your full name and where you were born.” “It seems odd to be giving my granddaughter my full name.” “I know, but you know.” “It’s Calvin Albert Haworth.” They called him Cal. He was born in Kansas. He was one of six boys. They didn’t have money. He always wanted to do sports, but he couldn’t. He had to work and he had to contribute to the household. So he started running. He didn’t have to pay money to do that. He went to World War II. He was a military policeman helping liberate camps. He is so follow-the-rules. He’s a lifelong conservative Republican who listened to Rush Limbaugh. You do not break a rule with Calvin Haworth. “A good, brisk walk or run will make you feel better if you follow the rules.” When I was 4, my dad was going to work in New York City, and someone came down the road the wrong way that was drunk and high and hit him head-on. [MUSIC PLAYING] He died instantly. My mom said the day she found out he was dead, my grandpa was like, this is not going to be in vain. We don’t want him to be a statistic, and we are going to change things. Let’s join MADD. And there was no local chapter, so my mom and my grandpa spent a year getting a charter, and then started a MADD chapter, doing the work, hosting events, raising awareness. He really stepped into that role of being there for us and being that figure for us. When I was 6, my grandpa took me to my first race, and I was hooked. So by the time I was 12, I ran the city championship in Duluth. At the time, it was a big deal. And my grandpa is the loudest cheerer. He cheers the last person in. I heard from multiple people from high school saying I was terrible, and your grandpa and grandma would even cheer for me. Like, they would wait on the course until we had all come in. His most famous line that he would say is “Pour it on, pour it on.” Lay it all out there, you know? There should be nothing left right now. Pour it on. And so I poured it on into the finish line, and I won the city championship, which set me up for a career in running. I went that cross-country season undefeated. I won the cross-country title. My grandpa was there again. I win the national title. And in 2007, I won that bronze in Osaka for the world track championships. My first phone call was to my grandpa, and he was so excited. And then the next year, I get to the Olympics, this lifelong dream. 2008 is the New York City marathon. It was so nerve-racking because I didn’t have time to really properly train for it. I didn’t even know if I could run the full distance. And that’s where my dad died. But my grandpa is like, you can do this, kid. He believed in me. Thirteen miles into the New York City marathon, I started to panic, and I was like, I’m really tired, I’m in over my head. And I just thought, I just had this mental moment where I was like, I don’t think I can do this. And I just had this voice saying like you’re fine. And I actually pictured my dad. And I found out later it was just blocks away from where he died. And then I just had this calmness of being like, you can do this. Pour it on. Pour it on. At the time, I ran the fastest debut American marathon. My grandpa was so proud, and that was so important for me. I never would have made it without him. I was in Minnesota in September. And my mom and I were walking, and she gets a phone call from the home. And she’s like, I just want you to know your grandfather tested positive for coronavirus. And then the next day, they called and they said, you can come in. You can come in and see him. And I just grabbed his hand and squeezed it. There’s just nothing. No pressure. I feel thankful that my last moments were his breath, his body very calm, and us being able to say everything we wanted to say, just telling him how much we loved him, you know, and how much we would miss him. And — and then he was gone. [MUSIC PLAYING] When I asked him to do it, he was so choked up about it. He was just like, well — you know, he’s like so choked up — he’s like, well, that would be the honor of a lifetime. [MUSIC PLAYING] He was there for the good moments and he was there for the bad moments. He’s just there. And that’s my grandpa. That’s my papa. [MUSIC PLAYING]

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