“Big Mac” fighting to hurdle cancer

Kyle MacIntosh runs in the 400-meter hurdles at Potts Field in Boulder, Colo. MacIntosh finished first with a time of 52.81 seconds. (CU Independent/Robert R. Denton)
Kyle MacIntosh runs in the 400-meter hurdles on March 17, 2012 at Potts Field in Boulder, Colo. MacIntosh was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare case of cancer, at the end of 2013. (CU Independent/Robert R. Denton)

Kyle MacIntosh, a Pac-12 finalist in the 400-meter hurdles in 2012, is facing a new obstacle in life.

He was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that occurs most frequently in teenagers and young adults, in December 2013. There are only about 250 cases in the United States each year.

As a track and field athlete for the University of Colorado, Macintosh has ran in the 60-meter, 200-meter, 400-meter, 60-meter hurdles, 400-meter hurdles, 4×100-meter relay and the 4×400-meter relay. The NCAA granted him a medical redshirt after the diagnosis to get him a sixth year of eligibility.

MacIntosh was a highly touted athlete out of high school, winning a state championship at Littleton High School among many other accolades.

“He was if not the top, one of the top runners in the state,” Drew Morano, an assistant sprints and hurdles coach for CU, said of MacIntosh recently.

MacIntosh’s high school years were prolific to say the least, as he had two top ten times in the nation for indoor track. He was No. 4 in the indoor season for the 400-meter dash and the 60-meter hurdles and won the Colorado state meet for the 300-meter hurdles. MacIntosh took three gold medals at the Simplot games, held each summer for high school athletes at Idaho State University. He ran in the Junior Olympics every summer and won the state Junior Olympics every year for the hurdles, finishing his high school career with seven national Junior Olympic medals.

“People were just drawn to him, everybody wanted to be his friend and he was always in the center of everything,” Morano said.

His major, communications, couldn’t be a better fit.

Ask anyone that has been a teammate of MacIntosh’s and they’ll tell you about his goofy side and ability to keep people loose.

“[Kyle is] one of those guys who could show up to practice, be laughing, but as soon as it’s time to go, he’s zoned in on practice doing whatever the goal of the day is,” Morano said.

Along with his ability to flip the switch on and off, MacIntosh doesn’t seem to have a bad bone in his body.

“I like to describe Kyle as one of the kindest people I’ve ever met,” Morano said. “He has a true care about other people.”

As for Kyle’s work ethic and leadership, well, you guessed it.

“There’s not a lot of people that have come through here that could train harder than Kyle,” Morano said. High praise considering Morano coached the likes of Jeremy Dodson and Joe Morris, who hold records at CU for the 200-meter dash and 60-meter dash, respectively.

“He’s a fierce competitor,” said Kyle’s dad, Bill MacIntosh. “He’s always had a passion for running. That’s motivated him through his journey with cancer.”

Kyle led with his friendly personality and by example. His coach described him as, “the standard of what the hurdles were at CU.”

Then the news came that Kyle had been diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma. Given Kyle’s nature, it isn’t hard to believe that his first thought was how he was going to beat it.

Bill was at work when he heard the news from his son.

“He had an MRI done on December 12th,” Bill MacIntosh said. “When the phone rang I thought he had a pulled muscle or a stress fracture, but when he said they found a mass in his pelvic area my heart fell to the floor.”

Morano called a team meeting that same day. Their reaction was utter shock. The kind, good natured, all-star athlete was placed in a terrible circumstance that he did not deserve.

“You can’t imagine it happening to a kid, it just doesn’t seem fair,” Bill MacIntosh said.

Kyle started chemotherapy on New Year’s Eve 2013.

“He did this cancer journey as a race,” Bill MacIntosh said. “Each round of chemo was a hurdle that he would go over. He looked forward to the next hurdle because it put him one step closer to the finish line.”

The support for Kyle is overwhelming. “In the hospital there’s constantly a line of people waiting to see him,” Morano said. “Teammates, friends, everyone is up there. We know that Kyle would be doing the same for us.”

Shaw Gifford, a teammate and friend of Kyle’s was being shown around campus by MacIntosh years ago when he came up with the nickname, “Big Mac.” Kyle gets this nickname because he’s the “big man on campus,” as described by Gifford.

MacIntosh’s role as a leader changed to a source of inspiration after the diagnosis.

“How he’s been fighting, how he’s been handling this situation is the most inspirational thing ever,” Gifford said. “It’s the little things from doing one more rep or working that much harder because of [Kyle]. He makes your practices easier.”

Kyle didn’t let the diagnosis slow him down. After every treatment he would go straight to the track and get his work out in.

As news of Kyle’s fight, and his video made in August, started to spread, his reach of inspiration grew. The basketball team caught news of the video and CU basketball head coach Tad Boyle showed it to his players.

“[Boyle] said that’s the best practice they’ve had all year,” Bill MacIntosh said. “The kids saw it and it really inspired them.”

Gifford and Morano were not shy about sharing Kyle’s story with me. Morano said, “I know he wouldn’t have it any other way.”

To support Kyle and the MacIntosh family, donations can be made at www.buffs4life.donate.dojiggy.com and http://www.gofundme.com/jl9mmc. Shirts will be on sale for $10 at the men’s basketball games on Jan. 22 and 24 at Coors Events Center. All the proceeds go to the MacIntosh family. The shirts will also be available for purchase at CUBuffs.com.

MacIntosh is currently staying at the Children’s Hospital in Aurora.

Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Cannon Casey at cannon.casey@colorado.edu.

CU Independent

The CU Independent, or CUI for short, is the student news outlet for the University of Colorado at Boulder. We cover news, sports, politics, opinion, arts and entertainment and more. Our mission is to provide news and commentary that's for students and by students — about the things we care about.

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