Tyler Cameron is gearing up to run his third marathon — but this time, he’s doing it to pay tribute to his biggest supporter: his late mother.
The Bachelorette alum will participate in the 50th TCS New York City Marathon on Nov. 7 and is taking on the massive physical challenge for a cause that is close to his heart: the Andrea C. Cameron Foundation.
Cameron, 28, formed the charity with his younger brothers Ryan and Austin to honor their mother, who tragically died of a brain aneurysm in 2020 at the age of 55.
“Starting this gave us light in a dark time, something to look forward to and a way to put a positive spin on losing someone who meant so much to us,” he tells exclusively about the foundation, which offers scholarships for eligible students in Cameron’s hometown of Jupiter, Florida, to continue their education in a traditional four-year college or in a trade school.
“We always say in our family to make mama proud and she helped out with so many charities and nonprofits her whole life,” he adds. “To have one of our own, I think she’d be very proud.”
Cameron says he felt a “huge void” after her death and reveals she acted as a mentor for his teammates on every sport he played growing up, providing tutoring and support in getting them prepared for college. He knew the best way to honor her memory was by continuing her legacy in their community.
“This marathon is bigger than just us crossing the finish line,” Cameron says about launching the charity with this 26.1-mile endeavor. “We are raising money and creating opportunities for those who are in need.”
With two marathons already under his belt after completing both the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and the TCS New York City Marathon within a month of each other in 2019, the model was hesitant about taking on another. But after running the organization New York Road Runners reached out to him, he realized it would be a great way to bring awareness to his cause, while also providing a healthy outlet to help process his grief.
“One of the guys running it with me, his mother just passed away as well. So I thought this could be a really good distraction for all of us and give us a healthy way to deal with some of our problems,” he shares. “I’m really big into using fitness to help with mental health and what it does for me every time I’m going through something, so I got a group of guys and we’re all running together and doing something bigger than ourselves. We’re going to really go for it.”
Having friends like his BFF, former Bachelor Matt James join him on the course has helped him keep his social life alive amid the grueling training, but the heartthrob, who split from model Camila Kendra, 27, in August, reveals that he hasn’t found much time for dating, adding that “it’s on the back burner” for now.
Cameron and James have been training together in recent months, but don’t expect competition to the finish line on race day. “He’s got the running gene and he’s ready to go, but I think we’re going to try sticking together,” Cameron says. “The plan is to keep each other going and just push each other.”
Cameron’s mom Andrea waited for him at the end of his last marathon, medal in hand, which he calls “one of the most amazing” moments of his life.
“I’m so grateful that I experienced that moment,” he recalls. “I got to the finish line and my mom was just crying. I was trying to hold it in, but she started making me tear up a little bit. It was such an amazing feeling to have her hug me there and just tell me how proud of me she was.”
“I actually have a photo framed next to my bed of me and my mom smiling together, holding each other after the marathon,” he adds, noting that his dad Jeff will be present this time and can’t wait to see his son make it to the end.
“Running marathons really changed my perspective on a lot of things in life, it’s given me so much and I can’t wait to have that moment with my dad at the finish line,” he says, hoping he’ll have a new framed photo to sit alongside the one with his mom.
While Andrea won’t be physically present, Cameron has felt her presence throughout his training, including a recent long run that left him cramping up shortly before reaching the end. “Then the song that honors my mom, which is Ed Sheeran’s ‘Supermarket Flowers,’ came on my playlist and it got me emotional,” he says. “Everything in my body had locked up, but I felt like she was looking at me at that moment and pushing me through it. I laid down afterward and was like, ‘I love you, mom.'”
As the marathon quickly approaches, he says he can’t wait to be surrounded by the “unconditional love” of strangers cheering on the sidelines, and hopes to continue doing it every year: “It’s a great challenge and it’s a great way to do something bigger than yourself.”