Marathon runners push themselves to be in the right mindset so that they can endure the challenge and finish – whether they win or not. But one woman won before even leaving the starting line.

A carefully orchestrated surprise awaited Stacy Faix at the 2018 Pittsburgh Half Marathon. You see, her 35-year-old son wanted to give her a hug. What’s the big deal? It was their first time meeting one another.

At age 15, Faix gave birth to a baby boy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and gave him up for adoption. Over the years, her biological son, Stephen Strawn, searched for her, but had no luck because his birth records were destroyed in a flood.

However, a new Pennsylvania law enacted in 2017 allows adoptees who meet certain criteria to request birth record information. Strawn was able to find out his birth mother’s name and her age at the time of his birth, along with other basics like where he was born.

He soon tracked her down and learned that she had been waiting to hear from him all those years. Strawn, who lives in Ohio, then set out to hatch a plan to surprise her in person.

In his research, he learned that Faix is a member of Team Red, White, and Blue, a non-profit group that supports vets. Coincidentally, he is a veteran and member of his local chapter and was able to coordinate his visit with the help of the Pittsburgh branch. It was two weeks after discovering her name!

Faix was running for Team RWB in the marathon and was none the wiser as she geared up for her start. She was handed a greeting a card from someone as Strawn hid from her sight. In the card was a sentence that read, “It’s been 13,075 days since you last saw me. . .”

When she turned around, he was there. See the emotional moment on video below as the two embraced for the first time.

Arranging the surprise included media requests, clever hiding, and the help of Strawn’s wife and his five biological sisters, who he also was able to contact. Side by side, Faix and Strawn ran the marathon together and celebrated afterwards at a family cookout.

Both said there were lots of hugs and tears as Strawn met other members of his bio family and talked with them. This is one reunion that’s had a happy ending.

One of the things that made this union so special was that as a young mother adopting her child out, she was unable to hold him or tell him goodbye. Because of that, their hug was meant so much more.

Now that they have connected, mother and son plan on keeping in touch, planning family gatherings and spending time with each other. An emotional Faix shared that she encourages other parents who have given up their children for adoption to never lose hope that they will meet some day.

We are so happy that this family was able to connect, and thanks to changing laws, more adoptees will be able to seek their birth parents.

Can you relate to this heartwarming reunion tale? Did this story touch you too?