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Running for Uncle Jay

OC Marathon

The Viana family will run for family member, a longtime Newport Beach resident who had stroke six years ago.

April 28, 2011|By Steve Virgen, steve.virgen@latimes.com
(Scott Smeltzer…)

There will be many people competing in Sunday's OC Marathon, hundreds from the running community coming together to take part in the marathon, half-marathon and 5K race.

Within all the groups and individuals, there will be a family that has united to run for Julius Viana, a longtime Newport Beach resident affectionately known as, "Uncle Jay," in the family.

In July of 2005, Uncle Jay suffered a stroke and has not been the same since, as he's confined to a wheelchair and cannot speak. But he can understand when others speak and was taken aback this past Christmas during the annual Viana dinner.

His niece, Gina, challenged her brother, Dean, to run in the OC Marathon. Dean Viana, a fire captain and paramedic coordinator in Beverly Hills, is no stranger to marathons. He recently competed in the Los Angeles Marathon, and he also competes in triathlons.

So when his sister challenged him, he wanted to outdo her. Dean said he would run while pushing Uncle Jay in the half-marathon.

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Dean said Uncle Jay made sounds and facial expressions, as if to say, "You're going to do what?"

But soon everyone else in the family realized what a special day it could be at the OC Marathon. Dean's wife and son also wanted to run alongside and help with Uncle Jay. More and more in the Viana family wanted to run for Uncle Jay too.

Now at least 18 of the Viana family will be running for Uncle Jay on Sunday. Doctor's orders permit Uncle Jay from being in the race. Just being pushed in an adult-type stroller would be too much for Uncle Jay, his wife and caregiver, Donna, said.

Still, she plans to bring Uncle Jay to the finish line to watch the family finish the race. Donna is extremely grateful for the thoughts and support.

She nearly cried when explaining how she felt about the family uniting in the race for Uncle Jay.

"This is exceptional, really exceptional," Donna said. "I'm getting emotional already. It's really something special what they're doing."

Uncle Jay's life dramatically changed after the stroke, Donna said. Her life changed as well as she's now his main caregiver. She has had to research and work to make a better life for her family. The rest of the Vianas have been around for support.

Running for Uncle Jay on Sunday will be emotional for everyone involved.

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