A tiny kitten named after the friendly ghost, Casper, won the 2023 Chicago Marathon. Okay, the kitten didn’t actually win the race, but he was a big winner when one of the runners, Sarah Bohan, 26, spotted the kitten in a pile of leaves along the 26.2-mile marathon course.
Bohan had a choice when she saw something “white and fluffy” hiding in the leaf pile around 11 a.m. She could keep running and beat her personal record or stop and rescue what she later described as a “dirty, scared, and skinny” kitten. After running 21 miles, she chose to stop and save the stray kitten. Then, she and fellow marathon runner Gia Nigro carried him along the route until they could find his family.
‘This is More Important Right Now’
Bohan, a Boston resident who has two rescued cats at home, was running to help Team PAWS Chicago, and she raised over $3.4K to help animals, exceeding her goal. But she also saved Casper that day! We’d say that’s an ameowzing accomplishment!
When nobody else was helping the kitten, Bohan’s instincts told her saving Casper was more important than beating her record.
“It had to be all of one pound,” Bohan told CBS Chicago. “It was a tiny kitten, the fur was matted, and I think something just clicked, and I was like, ‘This is more important right now.'”
Video by CBS Chicago:
Chicago Marathon Runners Change Course to Save Kitten
Imagine running for 21 miles. It was exhausting, and Bohan started to feel the pain, but the finish line was within reach. She stopped momentarily to stretch her legs, and that’s when she spotted Casper crying and scampering along. He was under a tunnel and covered in fleas.
“I’ve never seen a cat so small in my life!” she told WCVB Channel 5.
At that point, she said she had no choice but to save the kitty. The two women continued with Casper for about a mile before meeting Casper’s future family on the sidelines.
Casper Finds His Family at the Chicago Marathon
Standing on the sidelines, Andrea Maldonado was with her family, enjoying the race as they have for 18 years. Then, out of nowhere, the women walked up with the kitten. While everyone else had declined, she decided, “Why not?” She agreed to take the kitten to the vet for a health check.
“I knew I could provide him a good home, and we love cats and animals,” Maldonado said in a video shared with Insider. “So I said, ‘Okay, what’s one more, right?'”
An animal lover, Maldonado calls her home “the Farmhouse” and already has two cats, a dog, three daughters, and an infant son.
After bringing the kitten home from the race, the family decided on the name Casper after the ghost-like markings on the back of his head.
He has quickly made himself at home with everyone (see video below).
‘Life Brought Us All Together’
Maldonado joined PAWS Chicago’s Susanna Wickham for an interview with WGN News. When asked about how it happened, Wickham said it felt “miraculous” to learn about the kitten’s rescue at the finish line.
“This runner stumbled in and said, ‘I rescued a kitten?’ and we said, ‘What?’ What kitten?'” Wickham said as she greeted the marathon runners at the finish line.
Wickham then located Maldonado via an Instagram post and arranged veterinary treatment and neutering through their clinic.
“We couldn’t have found a better home for Casper,” said Wickham. “We are thrilled with the life that you are giving him and are thankful that life brought us all together. What a blessing it is for this beautiful kitten.”
After Casper was safe, Bohan and Nigro finished the marathon in three hours and 31 minutes.
It’s always a marathon to help cats and dogs who desperately need homes across the country. Wickham says PAWS Chicago is always looking for donated items, fosters and homes for rescued pets. You can find out more on their Facebook, Instagram, and website. They help over 25 thousand pets each year in Chicago.
Video by WGN News about Casper’s family: