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Capt. Jeff Kuss to be remembered in marathon

Man honors Blue Angels pilot on Weather Channel

Iowa resident Daniel Hagerty decided years ago to dedicate his marathons to paying it forward, and at the upcoming Pensacola (Florida) Marathon, he will run in memory of Durango native Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, the Blue Angels pilot who died in a plane crash in June.

“I’ve been a Blue Angels fan since I was a kid when the singing group Van Halen came out with the song ‘Dreams’ with a video featuring the Blue Angels,” said Hagerty, whose day job is a mortgage banker in Johnston, Iowa, a suburb of Des Moines. “I listen to that song a lot during my training runs.”

Hagerty goes all in when he dedicates his marathons, beginning several months in advance. The marathoner got permission from the Blue Angels and the Kuss family and designed a special jersey to wear in the race, which takes place Saturday. Brooks Running Shoes made him a dedicated pair of shoes for the race.

Hagerty also enlisted a co-worker, who made two giant teddy bears wearing Blue Angels-style flying suits, with the names of Kuss’ children embroidered on the pocket. Marine families, living up to the Semper Fi motto, created a dedicated race bib for the cause, and Marine Shop made a presentation box for the bib and the medal Hagerty will receive for completing the marathon. All the items will be given to Kuss’ wife, Christina Ferrarese Kuss, and her family after the race.

“He is a true hero, and we should not forget,” Hagerty said about why he selected Kuss to be honored through his efforts.

In another part of the dedication, he learned friends who work for the The Weather Channel, meteorologist Jim Cantore and producer Steve Petyerak, met Kuss in July 2015. En route to Pensacola, Hagerty will stop by The Weather Channel’s studios in Atlanta to talk to the two men about their Kuss encounter and the upcoming marathon, including the weather forecast for race day.

In other marathons, Hagerty has run for Louisiana State Trooper Steven Vincent, killed during a traffic stop; TNT NBA sideline reporter Craig Sager after he was diagnosed with cancer; and Minnesota Timberwolves Head Coach Flip Saunders after his death from cancer.

abutler@durangoherald.com

To watch

Early-risers can catch marathoner Dan Hagerty on The Weather Channel with meteorologist Jim Cantore and producer Steve Petyerak discussing Blue Angels pilot Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss at 6:30 a.m. local time Friday. The show is available on Channel 31 on Charter Spectrum Cable.

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