Running: A Way to Show My Gratitude

Typical Mom
As a mom, we have all done it – when you bring your child to a doctor’s appointment (even for a regular checkup) you study the providers face while they are assessing your child.  What we are looking for is their smile that says, “everything looks great; your kid is healthy”.

When my daughter, Katie, went for her first wellness appointment and first immunizations, I did the typical Mom routine: making silly faces, shaking her rattle, singing a “Wiggles” song…pretty much doing anything that would distract her (and myself) from the pinch she was about to get from a needle stick.  When the pediatrician laid the stethoscope to her tiny chest, I saw the look that every parent dreads:  the doctor’s smile faded into a look of concern…and my mom instinct I had told me that something wasn’t right.  Right away we were sent to the cardiology unit for a myriad of tests.  And what was meant to be a quick wellness appointment turned into a “here’s what we need to do in order to keep your daughter’s heart working”.

Fast forward 16 years and nine cardiovascular surgeries later, Katie is a strong, vibrant, funny, smart and HEALTHY teenager.  Outside of Katie’s resiliency to survive, the only reason she is here today is because of the healthcare she received at Boston Children’s Hospital.  The doctors and nurses literally kept my daughter alive.  As a Mom, how do you thank someone for saving your baby girl’s life?  You can’t!  There are simply no words that can express your gratitude….it is darn near impossible (believe me, I have tried and I just ended up sounding like a blubbering idiot).

How to Say Thank You
I had to find some way to say thank you and to give back to BCH in a meaningful way.  I was able to do that by joining the’Miles for Miracles Marathon Team’ at BCH.  Being a part of this team and running the Boston Marathon is so much more than running a race.  Connecting with other parents, family, friends of patients at BCH and being matched with a patient partner has had a profound impact on my life.  Seeing family, friends, co-workers, and local businesses believe in you and showing it by donating to your cause, whether it is $5, $50 or $500, is humbling.  Hearing the patients quests of survival and listening to other parents’ stories, is heartbreaking and motivating at the same time.  This is the stuff changes you as a human being.

But, This is Hard
Training for a marathon is hard.  Now add to it that training started in December with negative “insane” temperatures and it being so dark that your husband had to ride his fat tire bike with giant flashlights strapped to it so that you can see the roads.  I confess, it wasn’t ideal.  But, by the beginning of March, we (the M4M team) had completed two 20 mile runs of the 26.2 Boston Marathon course, we conquered the infamous ‘Heartbreak Hill’, and followed a strict training program…the team was PUMPED and this Mom was ready for Boston!

Then the Corona Virus hit….

The Boston Athletic Association postponed the race to mid-September, but as Spring became Summer with no signs of the virus letting up, the marathon was turned into a virtual race.  I wanted to give up.  Admittedly, I stopped running for a couple of weeks – I was tired and I was frustrated.  But, with every Saturday morning Zoom meeting with my teammates, my frustration reworked itself into a revitalized motivation.  In all honesty, how could I give up on this race?  If healthcare providers gave up because they were tired, burnt out or frustrated, what would happen to my daughter and the other patient partners?  If our patient partners didn’t give up fighting for their lives, who were we to quit on them??


Boston in Bangor
On Sunday, September 6th, I completed the Boston Marathon in Bangor.  I created my own start/finish line, my own race course, I had water stations, I had an aid station with my own medical team (my hubby!), and a cheering squad (my awesome neighbors). And, it was AMAZING!  I thought about everyone who believed in me and who made donations to BCH.  I thought about the healthcare team who saved Katie’s life and all the patient partners.  I thought about how my simple act of lacing up has made such a profound difference in, not only my life, but in the lives of those who need BCH.

Now it’s your turn
You have a chance to experience the same thing here in Bangor (or wherever you are!) for St. Joe’s!  You can participate in the “Commit to Get Fit” Virtual Race on September 27th by signing up to walk, jog or run your own virtual 5k or 10k.  It’s fun to do and you can get as creative as you please with your race route.  And, most importantly, you can feel good about supporting our Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) program.  Yeah, that’s right…just by participating, you are helping to ensure that victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and human trafficking get the care and support they need.  You can go the extra mile by asking your friends and family members to add to your donation!  Not only will you feel great after completing your own race, you will also leave the race knowing that you helped to save someone’s life too.

Good Luck to you and “May the road rise up to meet you.”