I’m honored to run again with the Credit Union Kids at Heart, led by Jane Melchionda of EasCorp Credit Union. Jane and the Kids have been instrumental in funding research at Boston Children's Hospital into diseases of which the medical community is only marginally aware. Funding from the Credit Unions Kids at Heart gets that research off the ground. Once initiated and signs of success are shown, funding from other sources such as the National Institute of Health become available. Near miracle advances in curing or correcting childhood disabilities then can be, and often are, developed -- such as surgery to provide enough blood flow to the brain of a Moyamoya sufferer so that she can run a marathon.
I ran last year’s Marathon with my patient partner, Shannon Smith, who suffers from Moyamoya disease, a progressive disorder caused by blocked arteries at the base of the brain. The disease affects primarily children, and can create disturbed consciousness, speech deficits, sensory and cognitive impairments, vision problems, and -- if untreated -- death. There is still no cure for this disease, but great strides are continuing to be made in developing surgical procedures to help increase the blood flow to the brain of the Moyamoya sufferer. Among Moyamoya sufferers, Shannon is somewhat unusual in that her impairment did not manifest until she was a freshman in college four years ago. Quick action and a newly developed form of brain surgery at Boston Children’s saved her life, and Shannon has taken it from there. Even though Shannon can’t run the Marathon this year, she will still be my partner all of the way.
One story from last year’s Marathon captures a lot of what our effort is about. When Shannon and I had finished our run and we were in the reception/recovery area, an obviously exhausted, hurting runner sat at our table. It was his first marathon. I asked him why he ran for Children’s. He told me that he had twin boys who had long been treated at the Hospital, one for type-1 diabetes, the other for cancer, now in remission. He ran for them. These and other patient parents will tell you how lucky they feel. With the help of Children’s, and with the help of God, their kids are making it. Many other parents are not so fortunate.
Collectively, with your support, the 19 Kids runners raised $400,000 last year for research at Boston Children’s. With your continued support, we can do even better, and brighten the outlook for many more children and their families. For that, and for the inspiration your donations bring to my run, I thank you, very much.