Quinlan's 'Grandma Berni' passes on love of running with Marathon Kids

A Quinlan woman is making an impact on students in her community. She’s passing down her love of running and teaching kids it’s about much more than just staying fit.

Students at A.E. Butler Intermediate can be seen running twice a week in the tiny town of Quinlan, east of Dallas. Their after-school running club is part of a national non-profit organization called Marathon Kids.

“It’s one of my favorite things to do. I just like running,” said Keely Boyer, a fifth grader.

They accumulate miles with the goal of reaching 26.2 miles. Some of them have met that goal.

“For every six laps you get, it’s a mile,” said Jose Martinez, a third grader.

It’s the most popular club at school with nearly 60 students on the roster. And a lot of times their number one cheerleader is Berni Lynn-Fischer, who is better known as Grandma Berni.

“She encourages us to try our best and run our miles to get our t-shirts, bracelets, patches… our rewards for running marathons,” Boyer said.

“She’s really nice and especially on holidays she gives us treats,” Martinez added.

“They like the treats. Yeah, the treats they love. The problem is I keep overdoing it,” Grandma Berni laughed.

She joined the program six years ago at the encouragement of her friend Cynthia Curb, who is Butler’s P.E. teachers.

Back then, two of Berni’s own grandchildren attended the school and also joined Marathon Kids. The name stuck.

She already has 12 of her own grandchildren. Now she said she just looks at all of the students as her potential grandchildren.

“I don’t know how many. I just ran across somebody from six years ago that saw me at a football game and said, ‘Grandma Berni, I want you to know I’m still running,’” she said. “I think I’m just a little extension of a family for these kids.”

She said the program helps her to stay fit too. She’s almost 70 and doesn’t plan to slow down any time soon.

“Their smiles just get me. I can’t explain it anymore,” she said.