There are times when someone comes into one’s life and leaves a lasting impression, making the good within a person even better. For Katie Sheehan, who was raised in Riverside, that person was the late Tom Cokins.

The Cokins family and the Sheehan family had long known each other. Cokins was a widower and Francine Sheehan (Katie’s mother) was a widow. Their friendship grew into a romance, with the couple becoming engaged a few years ago. But their plans were cut short when Tom was diagnosed with CLL, chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

The passing of Cokins on Aug. 10, 2010 left a void in the lives of the Cokins and Sheehan families as well as Tom’s many friends. Katie related how Tom had touched her life, being there for so many things as a friend and mentor.

It was then she began looking for some way to honor Tom’s memory. She came across Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program which helps train participants run marathons to raise money for the organization’s efforts in battling those and other diseases.

Through Team in Training she was able to locate the many marathons available and while she resides in Estes Park, Colo., where she is a teacher, there were none listed in her area. So, instead, she chose the obvious – The Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Oct. 9. The choice would have pleased Cokins, who through his work has left his mark on the city of Chicago as a planner and developer.

Katie has set a goal for herself of not only running 26.2 miles but raising $5,000 for the charity. At present she is only at about $475 but she has plenty of time to reach the goal and hopefully surpass it. She hopes this column will help her to reconnect with her friends from the area and those who knew Tom Cokins and those who would like to help her reach goal by October.

To learn more about Katie and her story and the man whose memory she has chosen to honor visit www.teamintraining.org and then click the “Find a Participant” link. Enter “Sheehan” into the last name search field and you’ll be taken to a link to her web page. There you can find information on how to donate and keep up to date on Katie as she trains.

She’ll be going through a few pairs of running shoes come October but it will be worth it. For those of us who knew Tom we know he would be proud of her.