Around here, our FACES IN THE CROWD feature is simply known as Faces, and we think the story behind Danny Mueller's freckled one will bring a smile to yours. Danny was cited in the Oct. 18, 1982 Faces when, as a 9-year-old, he finished the San Francisco Marathon in 3:19:50 and then, during the next 23 days, ran the 541.1 miles back home to San Dimas, Calif., averaging 23.5 miles per day. We now know Danny deserves additional recognition as a matchmaker.
Because of his age and the amazing mileage he covered, Danny's appearance in Faces sparked some strong reader response: The most responsive reader of all proved to be Gary Meyer, 34, of Webster, N.Y., a systems development technician for Kodak and a long-distance runner himself. Meyer called SI Reporter Armen Keteyian, who had written Faces the week Danny appeared. "I was leery of giving out the number," says Keteyian. "We don't ordinarily do that: Already one self-proclaimed Hollywood producer had called, and when I asked for a number to call him back, he said he didn't have a phone. Some producer. But Gary sounded so genuine, so honest, I decided he must be O.K."
Meyer reached Danny, who happened to mention he had a birthday coming up. Meyer asked what he wanted as a gift. "To run in the Philadelphia Marathon," said Danny. Meyer then said to Danny's mother, Jean, that he'd spring for their trip East for the race.
When Jean and Danny arrived at New York's JFK Airport at 11 p.m. on Nov. 24 Meyer wasn't there—and wouldn't be, as it turned out, until 12:30 a.m., the result of problems with the motor home he was driving. The terminal was empty except for Jean and Danny when Meyer finally walked in.
After a late snack, Danny went to bed, but Jean and Gary talked until 4 a.m. "I didn't know she was divorced until then," he says. Divorced, but engaged—and Gary had a steady girl.
The next day was Thanksgiving. The trio took in the Macy's parade, the New York sights and a showing of E.T. That night, Jean asked a question. "How are two people sure that they're really in love?" she said.
"I don't know," said Gary. "I think you know when it's the right person."
"After that," said Gary, "I gave her a big kiss, and a few hours later I proposed."
The marathon? It turned out to be the least eventful part of the weekend. The miserably cold and windy weather forced Danny and Gary to drop out after 17 miles.
Jean and Gary were married on Dec. 17, and last week the Meyer motor home was about 300 miles east of Vancouver, B.C., Danny and Gary being in the early stages of a 3,000-mile transcontinental run across southern Canada and the United States, a journey that began June 6 and they hope will end on Labor Day in Boston. "We're doing fine," said Gary last week from Grand Forks, B.C. "I think we can do it, and so does Danny."