The Hotfoot Marathon, as everyone called it, began with a Bugs Bunny cartoon, during one of those endless summers at Linda Mair Grayling’s grandmother’s house on 139th Street in the Bronx. The idea was to emulate Bugs himself when he put a match between the toes of the snoozing Elmer Fudd: lighting it always produced a startling amount of jumping up and down.
'I don’t know how it started, but it got so bad we were all afraid to go to sleep,' said Aaron Mair, Ms. Grayling’s first cousin. He remembers that he was maybe 9 and Linda was maybe 12, and that her brother and his brothers were all culprits. 'Nobody really won, but nobody burned the house down, either,' he said with a laugh.
The very large Mair family — which counts many police and correction officers as members — tried to keep alive such golden memories as they searched hospitals and ground zero itself for the 44-year-old Ms. Grayling after the terrorist attacks. A single parent, she was so proud of the new job she had just gotten as a receptionist at Marsh & McLennan on the 100th floor of 1 World Trade Center. She so adored the view. Now her 7-year-old daughter, Isa, is living with Ms. Grayling’s sister Yvonne, who takes Isa to Our Lady of Refuge Roman Catholic Church. 'That’s near the Grand Concourse,' Mr. Mair said, 'and it’s the very same church that her mother went to.'