Mother runs Marine Corps Marathon to fulfill fallen son’s dream

This is the last photo of Roxanne Kaylor and her son, Jeff, at his wedding in the summer of 2002. Shortly after, he was deployed to the Middle East. “I was almost scared for him. Because I did not know what was coming down the pipeline,” she said. (Courtesy Roxanne Kaylor)
This is the last photo of Roxanne Kaylor and her son, Jeff, at his wedding in the summer of 2002. Shortly after, he was deployed to the Middle East. “I was almost scared for him. Because I did not know what was coming down the pipeline,” she said. (Courtesy Roxanne Kaylor) ((Courtesy Roxanne Kaylor) )
In 2002, Army First Lieutenant Jeff Kaylor was deployed to Kuwait, and then a few months later, to Baghdad. It was the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. (Courtesy Roxanne Kaylor)
In 2002, Army First Lieutenant Jeff Kaylor was deployed to Kuwait, and then a few months later, to Baghdad. It was the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. (Courtesy Roxanne Kaylor) ((Courtesy Roxanne Kaylor) )
On April 7, 2003, the family got a call. “We just sat there, stunned. I just never thought this would happen to him,” Roxanne said. Kaylor, 24, was killed by a grenade. “I just hope I get to see him again. Sometime,” she said.(Courtesy Roxanne Kaylor)
On April 7, 2003, the family got a call. “We just sat there, stunned. I just never thought this would happen to him,” Roxanne said. Jeff Kaylor, 24, was killed by a grenade. “I just hope I get to see him again. Sometime,” she said. (Courtesy Roxanne Kaylor) ((Courtesy Roxanne Kaylor) )
Roxanne trains for the Marine Corps Marathon on the track at George Mason High School, trying to finally fulfill her son’s dream of finishing the MCM with a fast enough time to qualify for the Boston Marathon. “That definitely would be on the wings of Jeff,” she said. (Courtesy Roxanne Kaylor)
Roxanne trains for the Marine Corps Marathon on the track at George Mason High School, trying to finally fulfill her son’s dream of finishing the MCM with a fast-enough time to qualify for the Boston Marathon. “That definitely would be on the wings of Jeff,” she said. (Courtesy Roxanne Kaylor) ((Courtesy Roxanne Kaylor) )
When she crosses that finish line, she says the feeling will be like no other. “You just really feel good that you’ve accomplished something. That’s the biggest thing in the world – knowing you can do it by yourself and you have the motivation within to make something happen. I think that’s a great gift,” she said. (Courtesy Roxanne Kaylor)
When she crosses that finish line, she says, the feeling will be like no other. “You just really feel good that you’ve accomplished something. That’s the biggest thing in the world — knowing you can do it by yourself and you have the motivation within to make something happen. I think that’s a great gift,” she said. (Courtesy Roxanne Kaylor) ((Courtesy Roxanne Kaylor) )
(1/5)
This is the last photo of Roxanne Kaylor and her son, Jeff, at his wedding in the summer of 2002. Shortly after, he was deployed to the Middle East. “I was almost scared for him. Because I did not know what was coming down the pipeline,” she said. (Courtesy Roxanne Kaylor)
In 2002, Army First Lieutenant Jeff Kaylor was deployed to Kuwait, and then a few months later, to Baghdad. It was the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. (Courtesy Roxanne Kaylor)
On April 7, 2003, the family got a call. “We just sat there, stunned. I just never thought this would happen to him,” Roxanne said. Kaylor, 24, was killed by a grenade. “I just hope I get to see him again. Sometime,” she said.(Courtesy Roxanne Kaylor)
Roxanne trains for the Marine Corps Marathon on the track at George Mason High School, trying to finally fulfill her son’s dream of finishing the MCM with a fast enough time to qualify for the Boston Marathon. “That definitely would be on the wings of Jeff,” she said. (Courtesy Roxanne Kaylor)
When she crosses that finish line, she says the feeling will be like no other. “You just really feel good that you’ve accomplished something. That’s the biggest thing in the world – knowing you can do it by yourself and you have the motivation within to make something happen. I think that’s a great gift,” she said. (Courtesy Roxanne Kaylor)

FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Jeff Kaylor was born into a military family. His father, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Air Defense, served at Fort Bliss, Texas, before the family eventually moved to Centreville, Virginia.

When Jeff Kaylor was a little boy, his mom, Roxanne, says he was a cuddly brother to his younger sisters.

As a student-athlete at Centreville High School, Jeff played football and baseball. He dreamed of completing the Marine Corps Marathon and qualifying for the Boston Marathon.

But by 2001, that goal had to wait. Jeff graduated from Virginia Tech and was commissioned in the Army, right around the time of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“I was almost scared for him because I did not know what was coming down the pipeline,” Roxanne said.

He was deployed to Kuwait the next summer, and then a few months later, to Baghdad. It was the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

On April 7, 2003, the family got a call. “We just sat there, stunned. I just never thought this would happen to him,” Roxanne said.

Army 1st Lt. Jeff Kaylor was killed by a grenade. He was 24.

“I just hope I get to see him again. Sometime,” Roxanne said as her eyes welled up with tears. “It gets kind of hard.”

He is survived by his wife of nine months, who was also serving in the Army.

In the early evenings, as the sun sinks toward the horizon, you can find Roxanne training on the track at George Mason High School. She’s run the Marine Corps Marathon before, but she’s still trying to fulfill her son’s dream of finishing with a fast-enough time to qualify for Boston.

“That definitely would be on the wings of Jeff. I definitely would be on the wings of Jeff. I always say that, every time I start off — ‘Take me through this,’” she said. “I like to keep Jeff’s name alive. I think it’s really important that we all keep those guys and girls alive because they did such an unbelievable job.”

And when she crosses the finish line on Oct. 30, she says, the feeling will be like no other.

“First of all you say, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m so glad this is over with!’” she laughs. “You think, ‘Oh wow!’ You just really feel good that you’ve accomplished something. That’s the biggest thing in the world —knowing you can do it by yourself, and you have the motivation within to make something happen. I think that’s a great gift.”

Follow @WTOP on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

© 2016 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up