TCU student runs marathon to achieve ‘the impossible’


Two men with one big dream are defeating the odds. 

Connor Petty and Steven Marrs say they believe in the impossible. No dream, even a 26.2-mile dream, is too large for their aspirations.

Petty is a senior nursing student at TCU. He ran in the Bass Pro Conservation Marathon Sunday, Nov. 2, in Springfield, Mo. 

But he did not run alone.

Petty’s friend Steven, 33, had a dream of one day being able to run a marathon. Steven, or Steve-O, suffers from cerebral palsy but that didn’t stop him from chasing after his goal.

Marrs’ dreams came true Sunday as he crossed the finish line after being pushed 26.2 miles in four hours and 11 minutes.

Petty said his legs did the work as he pushed Marrs, but Marrs’ spirit played the largest role in the race. 

“Steve-O has the strongest heart and his positivity is what kept me pumping every single mile,” Petty said. 

The two met at Camp Barnabas, a Christian camp specifically targeted to love people with mental and physical disabilities. 

“Many times in our society people with special needs are overlooked and not valued, but at Camp Barnabas, we love on everybody and we rejoice in their abilities,” Petty said. 

Petty has been a counselor at Camp Barnabas for four years and Marrs has been attending the camp for 18 years.

“Marrs is a legend at camp,” Petty said.

Petty drove to Springfield with six of his friends from TCU and picked up Marrs in Tulsa, Okla. on the way.

“All of my friends that came hadn’t met Steve-O yet,” Petty said. “It was blast to see them get to know and love Steven and have them understand why he wanted to do this with me.”

Springfield, Mo. is where the Camp Barnabas’ headquarters are located and is Petty’s hometown. Camp staff, friends and family came to the race to cheer the team on. 

“Steve-O and I went a lot faster than we were expecting and that is definitely attributed to the incredible support we had from friends and family that were there every three to four miles,” Petty said. 

“They were the backbone of what kept us going and our dream was not only to accomplish a marathon, but bring a community together.”

Joel Huffman, sophomore finance major, travelled to Springfield with Petty to cheer him on at the marathon.

Huffman said that watching Petty run the marathon and achieve Marrs’ dreams was inspiring. 

“It was much more than just running a marathon and running a race,” Huffman said. “It was how he invested and sacrificed so much to make Steve-O’s dream come true. It was about real friendship and sacrificial love.”

During the race, Petty said he laughed with Marrs, prayed for Marrs and his family and thanked God for his ability to use running as a way to achieve a huge goal.

“We are brothers and we love the Lord passionately,” Petty said. “We know that we serve a very big God that can do big things and that’s why we dream big.”

Even though the two have crossed the finish line, Petty said this is only the start. 

“This isn’t the end, this is the beginning of something amazing,” Petty said. “As we crossed that finish line we realized we were encouraging people to do the impossible.”

Marrs said in a Skype conversation that he is ready to run again and continue to race after his dreams. 

Marrs told Petty that he doesn’t believe in fear and Petty said he is ready to spread Marrs’ inspiring message.

Petty said the two are looking to run the Camp Barnabas Half Marathon April 11 to raise money for the camp.

Besides running, Petty also said that he and Marrs are hoping to travel across the country this summer and promote a new program called Barnabas Life. 

“The program will provide a place where people with disabilities and typical people can love one another, not only during the summer, but for a lifetime,” Petty said.

They do not have a wheel-chair accessible van or financial support at the moment, but Petty said they are planning like God will provide, and when possible, they are going to do it.

Marrs and Petty also dream of being on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and want to inspire others with their story of friendship, love and big dreams.