Growing up visiting Walt Disney World for our annual family vacation, I cherish countless magical memories made at Disney Parks – memories I continue to make with my family, friends, guests and fellow cast members as a cast member today. Because this weekend is Father’s Day, Disney magical moments with my dad are “running” through my head. Yes, our favorite ride is Peter Pan’s Flight at Magic Kingdom Park, but some of our favorite Father-Daughter Disney moments involve not flying, but running through Disney theme parks with runDisney.
My dad, David Manion, ran his first marathon and runDisney race in 2001 at The Most Magical Place on Earth. While my 11-year-old self wasn’t quite up to running just yet, my brother, Lyle, and I made signs to cheer Dad on as we watched him run through EPCOT and to the finish line.
I eventually took up running during my college years and began running more regularly with my dad. With his encouragement, I ran my first half marathon in New Orleans, La. in 2012 just weeks after finding out I’d be starting my Disney career on the Disney College Program later that summer.
When I became a Disney cast member, I knew we had to participate in a runDisney race together. Since then, we’ve crossed quite a few Disney finish lines, from runDisney, to the Castaway Cay 5K while on a cruise with Disney Cruise Line and even the Disney Be Well… Cast, Friends & Family 5K!
Even though we live over 600 miles apart, dad and I have our love of running to keep us connected. Oftentimes, screenshots of our running routes and race paces are shared in the family text chat as Dad and I keep each other motivated for the next race we’ve planned.
Most recently, we closed out the 2023 runDisney season by participating in the Disney Pixar Monsters 10K during the runDisney Springtime Surprise Weekend in April. Running with Dad is always special, but running a runDisney race with dad during my Walt Disney World Ambassador term is a core memory at its best!
It’s memories like this that make every mile magic with runDisney. Whether you choose to participate with family members, friends, co-workers or fellow runDisney fans you meet in your corral at 4 a.m. on race day, every mile really is magic when you can share the miles with those you love.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad! Thanks for being my running buddy, Disney-loving dad and constant support in my Disney career and beyond.
Now, it’s time for us to get back to training, and the countdown is on for our next runDisney race – the 2024 Walt Disney World Half Marathon! We’ll see you on the course in January, runDisney racers!
And for those of you participating in the runDisney Virtual Series, I can’t wait to watch you conquer your virtual miles. Be sure to share your photos on social media using #runDisneyVirtual.