UPDATE: Nathan Sexton, former Bellhops VP, has died
UPDATE: The Chattanooga community is mourning the loss of 31-year-old Nathan Sexton.
He died early Monday morning from brain cancer.
Bellhops Co-Founder Cameron Doody says Sexton was the definition of a fierce leader. No obstacle could get in his way, even if it was life threatening.
"But when he got sick, everything he did after is really when we found out what he had in his core. Truly super human type stuff,” Doody said.
Sexton was diagnosed with brain cancer back in 2015. Doctors only gave him a 15 months to live. So, he decided he was going to train for marathons.
"He's six weeks out of brain surgery where he had a tumor the size of a baseball taken out of his head, and he beats all of us in a marathon,” Doody said.
Sexton was running during chemotherapy. Even a seizure in the middle of a race wouldn't stop Nathan. He would take his medicine and keep running.
"And that's what he did. Up until his body gave out, he gave it all he had and he didn't quit. That's amazing,” said Alan Outlaw, Nathan's friend.
After his body was too weak to continue running, he started painting.
Alan Outlaw has one of his paintings inside the FastBreak store. It's a picture to remind him of Nathan's story and how thankful he is that he got to be a part of it.
Doody says Sexton had that fighting spirit to the end.
"I would tell him I'm just incredibly proud of how he lived his final days,” Doody said.
A GoFundMe page has been made to help Sexton’s family with burial expenses and getting back on their feet.
PREVIOUS STORY: Nathan Sexton has died from the effects of glioblastoma — one of the most aggressive forms of brain cancer.
Sexton's wife, Elizabeth, posted the news to Facebook on Tuesday afternoon. The post confirmed his death with an uplifting message accompanied by scripture.
"To know what joy Nathan is experiencing right now and for all eternity gives me the strength and the peace I need to understand that although we'd rather have him here, with us, on Earth, Nathan is happier than we could ever begin to fathom in Heaven with Jesus. And for that, I will rejoice in Him. This world is not our home, and no one knew that more than Nathan. He is finally home with the Lord. Rest in peace, Nathan. I love you with all the love in the world," she wrote.
In 2015, Nathan was told he had stage 4 glioblastoma. It came with an average life expectancy of 15 months, and a best-case-scenario of 24 months. Determined to spend more time with his wife and son, the father of one changed his diet, exercised regularly and actively worked to extend his life to be with his family.
By early 2016, he was ready to attempt the Chattanooga half-marathon. About 40 Bellhops employees ran in support of Sexton, who finished in 1:41:07 — exceeding his goal by more than 30 seconds per mile.
He raced the 2017 Chattanooga Marathon as a qualifier and placed second in his age group despite suffering a seizure late in the race. However, the seizure slowed him enough to miss the qualifying time by 129 seconds.
Fellow runners and community members weighed in on his behalf, and the Boston Athletic Association granted him a rare special entry. He took his running to the nation's biggest stage, where he suffered five seizures during the race. He was observed by a nurse but slipped away and finished.
Later in his life, Nathan began painting. He sold several hundred pieces online despite having no previous artistic experience.
Nathan's story, smile and heart meant so much to so many. He was and will remain a true inspiration to people beyond the Tennessee Valley.
Elizabeth wrote, "He fought with all of his might for 43 months, although he was given 15 months to live. He has been continuously faithful to God and never (not once) questioned, "Why me?" Instead, he asked, "For what purpose?"…and his answer was always, "to glorify God." And now, on January 29, 2019, he has triumphantly finished his race."
Nathan Sexton was 31.