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Firefighter, loving father died running marathon for a cause

Greensboro N.C. fire captaWill Caviness had raised $2895 for International AssociatiFire Fighters Burn Foundation.

Greensboro, N.C., fire captain Will Caviness had raised $2,895 for the International Association of Fire Fighters Burn Foundation.

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Updated: November 16, 2011 11:57AM

A Greensboro, N.C., fire captain who was running to raise money for burn victims in Sunday’s Bank of America Chicago Marathon collapsed shortly before the finish line and later died Sunday.

William “Will” Caviness, who was in Chicago with his wife and brother for the marathon, had raised $2,895 for the International Association of Fire Fighters Burn Foundation — more than his goal of $2,000. He had posted on his Facebook page that he valued the burn foundation’s mission and its dedication to improve the quality of life of burn victims, especially the lives of children.

Caviness was the father of a toddler son and a daughter who is about 10 months old, a neighbor said.

Dr. George T. Chiampas, medical director for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, said Caviness, whom he declined to identify by name, collapsed at Roosevelt Road and Indiana Avenue, and that “five to six” emergency physicians responded immediately.

“We got a pulse back but the person died one hour and 45 minutes later,” Chiampas said. “Our condolences go out to the family,” he said. Caviness died at 12:03 p.m.

The frequency of marathon deaths is one in 100,000 to one in 120,000 runners, Chiampas said, adding that studies show that marathon deaths tend to happen at the end or near the finish line.

The last time the marathon experienced a death was in 2007. Sunday’s was the sixth death in 14 years; race officials could not provide a total number of deaths in the marathon’s history.

“Will was a committed husband, a loving father,” said Dave Coker, president of the Greensboro firefighters union local. “ . . . He had a great sense of humor. . . . He was one of the guys.”

Nancy Blaylock, an 86-year-old neighbor, said Caviness was “one of the nicest people I know.”

She said Caviness would help her out by cleaning the gutters of her house and doing odds and ends.

“I saw him out with the children a few days ago,” Blaylock said. “You’d see him out running, pushing the carriage with the little one in it.”

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