Todd and Robyn Pendleton are reminded of the Oklahoma City bombing every time they look at their son Evan.
He still carries a small scar under his eye, a mark left by one of the many shards of glass that flew through the YMCA day care when that massive truck bomb went off half a block away.
Evan was among the lucky ones.
So were the Pendletons.
“You know that you're blessed,” Todd said. “It's like any time a traumatic event like that happens and you escape it. It really makes you reflect.”
And in the Pendletons' case, run.
All three of them will participate Sunday in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. Todd will do the half marathon while Robyn and Evan run on relay teams.
The race has become a day of thanksgiving for the family.
On that April morning 17 years ago, Todd was running behind, as he sometimes did. He had to drop off Evan at the Downtown Y, then get to work at The Oklahoman, where he was and still is a graphic artist.
“You're going to be late again,” Robyn told him. “You'd better get going.”
Todd left Evan at day care just before 9 a.m. Then, he got in his truck and turned around right by the Murrah Building just like he always did.
As he sat at the corner of NW 4th Street and Broadway Avenue a few moments later, he felt something hit the back of his truck. He thought another car had smashed into him, but when he turned around to see what happened, there was nothing there.
That's when he noticed the dark smoke rising behind him.
He didn't know a Ryder truck packed with explosives had caused the concussive force that hit the back of his truck. He didn't know a terrorist attack unlike any other seen to that point on American soil had just happened. What he knew was that he had to get back to Evan.
He pulled into a parking lot and ran to the Y.
Todd arrived about the same time that the day care workers were bringing the kids outside. Many of them were bloodied and injured and terrified.
Evan never cried.
“Now, a lot of it might've been because I was right there,” Todd said. “I was holding him.”
The day care workers asked Todd to help one of Evan's classmates who was more severely injured and seemed to be in shock. They made their way to a couple of the triage centers set up near the bomb site, but all of them were packed with more critically injured victims.
Todd eventually took both of the boys to St. Anthony's Hospital.
That's where Robyn ultimately met up with them.
Then working at the Earlywine Park YMCA, now a wellness trainer at The Oklahoman, she was relieved to find Evan and yet horrified by what he'd endured. She took him home and had to pick glass out of his little body.
“He had it in his socks and his diaper,” she said. “The explosion just made it like sand.”
Robyn saw the devastation inside the day care firsthand a week or so later. As a YMCA worker, she was among the employees who went inside to help recover as much as possible. Massive shards of glass had embedded in the weight equipment. Cinder block walls around the pool area had fallen, exposing second- and third-floor rooms. Glass windows and doors where Todd and Evan had passed through only minutes earlier had become a shower of deadly projectiles.
For the next year or so, Evan slept in his parents' bedroom. He never liked thunder or sirens after that day either.
“You think of those kids at the other day care,” Todd said of the 15 children who died inside America's Kids.
“And their parents,” Robyn said softly.
Yes, the Pendletons consider themselves blessed whenever they look at now 19-year-old Evan. He plays football. He throws discus. He will graduate from Washington High School next month.
His name is on the Survivor Wall, and as he's gotten older, it is something he's taken more and more seriously.
That's the main reason why he'll run Sunday in a five-person relay with four of his football buddies. It's the second year he's participated in the Memorial Marathon.
Evan and his scar remind the Pendletons of the bombing, their blessings and their thanksgiving.
So does the marathon.
“When you go, they have that opening ceremony,” Todd said of the 168 seconds of silent before the race, a tribute to the 168 people who died as a result of the bombing.
“It's a long 168 seconds,” Robyn said.
“It refocuses you on it every time.”