Feel Good

Jessica Foley Brought Her Students To OKC Children’s Marathon

Below the Survivor Tree, Jessica Foley observed the kids gathered around her.

She asked, “You want to see my mother’s chair?”

Foley and her flock turned into the Field of Empty Chairs at the Oklahoma City National Memorial clad in neon green shirts with the words RUN TO REMEMBER splashed across the front.


On Saturday morning, Cesar Chavez Elementary School children ran in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon kids marathon.

Foley said, “Every floor is represented, now a third-grade teacher at Cesar Chavez, as she stood near the empty chairs. “I’m going to show you where my mom’s chair is.”

Foley’s mother, Victoria Sohn, died in the bombing at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

For the first time in three years, Foley was elated to participate once again in the Memorial Marathon.

Since she began teaching at her school in 2018, she has worked to get her students involved in the kid’s marathon.

However, the pandemic scuttled several plans. Foley had 31 runners this year.

Foley said that the runners ranged from “Pre-K through fourth grade. We even have a teacher with a one-year-old girl. She even registered, and she will be in her stroller.”

She is always open with her students about losing her mom. The girl was only a year or two older than them on that horrible morning in April 1995.

Foley was in fifth grade and remembered being taken out of school.

She has a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in human relations from Oklahoma.

Eventually, she landed at Educare, which provides early childhood education for at-risk families on OC’s southside.

Foley told one of her co-workers she had considered teaching someday watching the school rise.

She was delighted when she got a call one day for the role of a teacher.

Working with adults in need of mental health services made her realize they were resistant to change. To make an impact, she needed to work with children.

Cesar Chavez offered her an emergency certification in teaching.

She is a finalist for Oklahoma City Public Schools’ teacher of the year four years later.

Students ran toward Foley after another as she crossed the finish line Saturday. She received many hugs and smiles.

Foley said, “It’s fun to do the race, but seeing them proud of themselves is more important than anything else.”


She means the same to the students who ran Saturday as she does. They brought joy and happiness to a place that was joyful to Foley as a kid.

Foley said, “I remember that joy, and I remember the laughter and the happiness.”

Tears filled her eyes.