More Walt Disney World Resort Stories

I runDisney for ‘Dad Time’

Robert Hitchcock

by , Content Director

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but for Matt Swartz of Gilbert, AZ, one particular photo translates into two words, “life changing.”

As with the majority of runners, Swartz began running for for health and fitness, and wanted to lose weight. A life change ignited with the snap of a camera. What started as a commitment to his son to climb Mount Kilimanjaro for his 17th birthday, turned into a passion for running.

Through healthy eating and exercise, Swartz lost 150 lbs over a two-year period. Losing the weight not only allowed him to summit the mountain with his son, but along the way he fueled his daughters passion for running and they joined him on his journey. What began as exercise turned into something greater and more precious, “dad time.”

Matt Swartz 2

Earlier this year Swartz’s daughter, Emmalie, asked him to run the Princess Half Marathon presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at Walt Disney World Resort. “And what’s a dad going to do? Of course you’re going to run the Princess,” Swartz said. With an agreement that he could wear a tutu, the father – daughter team was off and running.

Take a moment to watch this inspiring journey of weight loss, newfound love of life and family and of course finishing the Princess Half Marathon.

I invite you to visit and find an event to start your journey to a healthy active lifestyle.


#WhyIrunDisney is dedicated to sharing compelling and motivational human-interest stories. To view submissions and to learn how to upload your story, visit


  • What an inspirational story and what an incredible dad! I’m heading out to grab my running sneakers now!

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