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Katy Family Continues to Pour Grief into Popular Community Event, Foundation


November 29, 2023

By Natalie Cook Clark

Katy’s McDaniel family continues to pour grief for their son into honoring his memory and helping others. Registration is open for the 9th annual Graeme’s Run. Recently, their foundation gave close to $300,000 directly to research.

Registration for the 9th annual Graeme’s Run is open. This year’s event will be February 24, 2024 at No Label Brewery. The run starts at 8:30 a.m. but runners can still register up to an hour before start time.

The Start of Graeme's Run

The McDaniel Family, especially Stephanie, turned their grief into purpose and started Graeme’s Run in 2016. The event has quickly become a favorite for many Katy families with it offering family activities, awareness, and of course honoring Graeme.

“It’s been a gift to be able to share Graeme with the community,” says his mother, Stephanie McDaniel. The McDaniel family felt called to do more.

In 2021 they formed The Graeme McDaniel Foundation to focus on funding local congenital heart defect research with major heart centers and also support heart families that are traveling for care.

“Not only are we able to share Graeme, but we’re also able to share the heart warriors before him and the future warriors who haven’t started their journey yet,” says Stephanie, who is also President and CEO of the foundation.

Graeme's Story

Graeme McDaniel was born in Katy on December 18, 2021 after a healthy pregnancy to longtime Katy residents.

“We had an emergency delivery after the doctor detected his heart rate in the 70s at my 34-week appointment,” says Stephanie. “He was diagnosed with Double Outlet Right Ventricle, Malposed Great Vessels, VSD, Coarctation of the Aorta, Straddling Mitral Valve, Aortic Valve Hypoplasia, and Complete Heart Block.”

After birth, Graeme was rushed to the Texas Medical Center where he underwent a coarctation repair, a pacemaker was placed, and a pulmonary artery band was placed. He was released from the hospital after 44 days after two surgeries.

The McDaniel Family

Finding Purpose Through Grief

After a happy and mostly normal short life, Graeme McDaniel died on May 3, 2015 at 2 ½ years old.

“We were devastated and still are in complete shock, as we are left to try to find our new normal and purpose,” says Stephanie.

That new normal includes spending time with family including Graeme’s siblings; Mason (12) and Jules (6.) and honoring his name in a big way.

Last summer, The Graeme McDaniel Foundation raised close to $300,000. The foundation held their first gala and other smaller fundraisers.

Each year the run reaches new records in attendance and funds raised. Last year they had over 1,700 runners (20-25 of which were very serious.) Most runners are Katy families who want to come out for a fun time and to honor Graeme.

This year, people can choose to run as a team or to sign up on their own. Even if you don’t want to run, there is a place for you among the food and family activities.

The McDaniels work directly with doctors to ensure that the funds are going where they can most make a different.

“We are in a great position to work with the doctors and see how the funds help them out in ways that grants can’t,” says Stephanie.

“We are so early on in the learning curve in this research. This isn’t like cancer,” says Graeme’s Dad, Robby McDaniel, who also serves as Chairman of the Board. “Though work is being done, more kids are able to live longer and wonderful lives.”

Registration for the 9th Annual Graeme’s Run is open online. To ensure that you have a run shirt, register by February 9, 2024.

“This is a positive place to pour my grief into,” says Stephanie. “I know that the money is going into the right places and I love seeing the community come together to honor Graeme.”


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