Actor Luke Macfarlane never thought he’d run a marathon. But the Hallmark star had good reason to join the New York City Marathon on November 5, 2023 — running in memory of Murphy Roberts, the late brother of his partner, World Cup skiier-turned-sports-agent Hig Roberts.
“Never thought I would do it, to tell you the truth,” he told People on November 3.
Murphy died in August 2016 at age 22 after suffering a diabetic seizure while he was on a hike, according to People. Though Macfarlane never got to meet him, learning about Murphy and his story inspired the actor, 43, to run with Roberts, 32. Along with Roberts’ twin sister Cassidy, they joined a running team raising money for Beyond Type 1, a foundation started by Jonas Brothers member Nick Jonas, who also has diabetes.
Here’s what you need to know:
Luke Macfarlane Considers Running His First Marathon in Memory of Murphy Roberts an ‘Honor’
“Getting to know Hig and his family was a lot about learning family history, like you do, including about his younger brother who passed away seven years ago from type 1 diabetes,” Macfarlane told People.
Murphy was diagnosed at age 11 with type 1 diabetes, which means his body created very little or no insulin. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of the disease in children often develop quickly — from weight loss to behavior changes. Patients require insulin injections or a pump for survival.
Roberts told People that type 1 diabetes is “a pretty cruel disease as a young person to be diagnosed with,” explaining that his little brother needed insulin injections “every two hours during the day.”
Though he’d never run a marathon before, Macfarlane told People he saw it as an opportunity to “honor” Murphy and “show my love for Hig and his family.”
Macfarlane and Roberts, who became first-time dads to their newborn daughter Tess in June, have periodically shared photos via social media from their training runs.
On November 4, Roberts shared a pic in his Instagram Stories of them running shirtless through a tree-lined neighborhood and wrote, “Tomorrow is the day … thank you to all who have supported.” He also shared a photo of the Beyond Type 1 running team in Times Square, calling them an “inspiring and strong crew.”
During the marathon, Beyond Type 1 posted videos of its runners, including one of Macfarlane giving high fives to the crowd as he passed by.
Luke Macfarlane’s Supporters Helped Him Beat His Fundraising Goal for Diabetes Foundation
Macfarlane and Roberts share a love of adventure and fitness, even climbing to the “highest point in the Americas,” Mount Aconcagua, in January.
So when Roberts and his twin sister, Cassidy, decided to run the NYC Marathon to raise money for Beyond Type 1 in their brother’s honor, Macfarlane was happy to jump in, too. His decision to join them not only provided moral support, but a wider network to ask for fundraising support.
“Luke has been very gracious to use his network to help us connect with as many people as possible and fundraise as much money as possible,” Roberts told People.
Macfarlane shared his fundraising page on Instagram, with a goal of raising $10,000 for the cause. By the time the marathon started, his supporters had raised $12,691. Meanwhile, Roberts also raised over $7,000 for the cause.
Though he never got to meet Murphy, Macfarlane wrote on his page, “I feel like I have got to know a bit about their remarkable brother and son, and we are taking this opportunity to remember Murph loudly and keep his memory focused in our hearts.”
With fundraising and keeping Murphy’s memory alive their main goals, Macfarlane told People that he and Roberts had no interest in winning the race.
“The goals are to finish strongly, don’t injure ourselves too much and let the professionals really take the 1, 2, 3 spots,” he said. “I don’t think we’re going to be breaking any records.”
Macfarlane, who took a yearlong break from Hallmark to work on other projects, returned to the network in September’s “Notes of August.” Next up, he’ll star in “Catch Me If You Claus” on Thanksgiving night.