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West Hartford family pays it forward with ‘Johnny’s Jog for Charity’

WEST HARTFORD -- Johnny Moran lived a short but powerful life. He touched enough hearts to last a lifetime, inspiring people with his incredible strength, vibrant spirit and infectious simile.

Dan and Laura miss so many things about Johnny, but it’s his smile that sticks out in their mind as what defines the little boy.

"That smile. He was just a love cuddling in your arms at the end of the day and his giggle, he had the best laugh, the best laugh," said Laura.

Johnny suffered from a neuromuscular condition called Wieacker-Wolff Syndrome. Only a handful of people in the world have the same condition. Johnny was nine when he died last year.

Back in 2011, the Morans were so overwhelmed by the support Johnny and they received from the community, they wanted to find a way to say "thank you." So with their friends' help they organized Johnny's Jog For Charity, a St. Patrick's Day themed 5K road race.

For seven years, it's been held in West Hartford's Blue Back Square and so far has raised more than $200k for 3 local charities: Covenant Prep School, the Molly Ann Tango Foundation and The Miracle League of West Hartford.

"Johnny loved the music," remembers his father Dan. "The spirit of the day so fun for him every time he'd come down there he'd be beaming with smiles."

In the past, Johnny's been part of the jog, wheeling down the streets of Blue Back Square with his parents and four siblings, laughing, smiling and making new friends. But this year is the first jog without Johnny. Dan and Laura know it will be especially difficult, but they're also looking forward to a day of celebrating a little boy who taught them so much about acceptance and perspective.

"He was a kid who never gave up hope. That’s what I draw back to, on the tough days. When he was sick I used to be able to snuggle him and that would make it okay. Now he's not there to snuggle but I just really think about who he was and we're going be to okay because we had that gift and it will always be with us," Laura said.

Johnny's Jog was scheduled for Sunday, March 12, but because of potential bad weather it was postponed to Sunday, March 26. If you want to register and jog along, click here for more information.