April 18, 2010

Boston Marathon!

The day is finally here and we are in Boston on the eve of the Boston Marathon! I cannot convey to you the energy in this town right now - the whole city has been overrun by intimidating, professional-looking runners in the prime of shape and wearing workout gear showing titles of their past accomplishments.
For those of you who don't know, my husband spent the past six months training for the Boston Marathon and raising money for the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress through the event. I am so pround that he raised $4,300.00!! Wow!

We met today with the Mass. organization and met the other members of the team, an amazing, loving, and fit group of people who also raised money in celebration of children, family members or friends who they know and love and who have Down syndrome. We met alot of kids who are connected to the MDSC who have Down syndrome, and let me tell you - they are an amazing and inspirational bunch of people! From the cute and energetic four year old, to the talkative, funny and precotious fifteen year old, to the teenage boys who had so much fun palling around. These kids were just great!

I can't wait for tomorrow - the real event - and will post pictures of it all. We are so blessed to be supported by such wonderful friends and family who have carried us through the past year. Having people giving money towards this cause was just a physical showing of the emotional support that we have been given over the past thirteen months of Chase's life - We are so blessed to have Chase, and we are so blessed to have everyone's support. This event encapsulizes all of that love, excitement, and anticipation for Chase's incredible future!

All in all the team of twenty raised over $90,000!! Here are the team bios:

MDSC 2010 Boston Marathon Team

Kara Greer, Murfreesboro TN
I am the blessed mother of six children – Joshua (15), Savannah (13), Parker (12), Garrett (11), Lindsay (9), and Morgan (8). Yes, I gave birth to each of them, and as you can see from their ages they were each given to me one at a time! God gave me an extra special blessing with Morgan, as he has Down Syndrome. Since Morgan’s birth I have worked with the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee (DSAMT), a wonderful organization with a mission statement very similar to The Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress. Morgan is main-streamed in the second grade at Barfield Elementary. He loves to run, ride his bike, swim, and eat cheese pizza on Friday nights during our ‘pizza picnics’ in the front room. Neither Morgan nor I would be where we are today without the help and emotional support of DSAMT and MDSC.

Couple that history with the fact that I have wanted to run the Boston marathon since I was a 13-year-old cross country runner (captain of the boys team because there were no girl cross country teams back then) and you have a winning combination. I have competed in many races, but have really enjoyed the camaraderie and support I have had from the MDSC for completing the Boston marathon. I have a special, passionate spot in my heart for folks with Down Syndrome, which makes raising money for MDSC very easy for me.

All six of my children are helping me gear up for the Boston marathon in their own special way. Joshua helps me train on my long runs and competes in local half marathons with me. Savannah, my fashion diva, is helping me choose my wardrobe for the main event. Parker has been watching the Food Channel and has recommended that I eat one meal at Durgin Park – and that I bring him home the leftovers of course! Garrett reminds me when it’s time for me to get some sleep at night so I can get up for my early morning (3:30am) runs before work. Lindsay, my other fashion diva, helps to make sure that I have coordinated work out clothes. And then there’s Morgan’s contribution. Many training days require at least some mileage to be run on my treadmill. Morgan will stand next to my treadmill and hold my hand while I peal off the miles. He is just content to be holding Mom’s hand while I train to run in Boston.

Kim Daly of Westwood, MA
I am a proud mother of four beautiful daughters; Sara, Julia, Ava and Stella. Ava is my inspiration for running the Boston Marathon! Almost 7 years ago, we knew next to nothing about Down syndrome. The day she was born was a very scary day for us. But thanks to the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress (MDSC), we would not be alone in this. Our pediatrician informed us about the condition and we were contacted by a family who had a child with Down syndrome. She had Early Intervention from the very first few weeks of her life attended the Down syndrome clinic at Children's Hospital. Now she is a happy and healthy kindergartner. She absolutely loves school! There is not one day that goes by that she does not amaze us! She is smart and funny and the most loving person I know! If she sees anyone upset or sad, she is not happy until she can make them smile. We learn from Ava everyday and she has made all of us better people. We are members of the MDSC and receive fliers from them in the mail advertising the events and things that they have to offer for kids with Down syndrome and their families. One day I received a flier stating "join our 2010 team and run the Boston Marathon". I laughed, said "those people are crazy, I could never run a marathon" and threw it in the trash. Over the next few weeks as I did my daily jog, in the back of my mind I thought "maybe I can do this" and I ran a few extra miles. Before I new it, I was running 8 then 10 then 12 then 14 miles a day! That is when I emailed the MDSC and asked "is it too late to join the team"? And here I am! My training is going fabulously! Running is the best stress relief you can ask for! And believe me, as a mother of four, I need some stress relief. I feel as though I am inspiring my family to live a healthier lifestyle and that I will be a role model for my daughters. I love running through my town. Westwood is beautiful! I love when people wave or shout out encouragement from their cars. I am also very happy to be fundraising for the MDSC. I know Ava will go far in life! We have hopes and dreams for her that I know are possible because of the MDSC. It is an honor to be on this team of such special people, people who have been touched by someone with Down syndrome.

David Kaufman of Peabody, MA
If you told me when I was growing up that I would one day run the Boston Marathon, I would not believe you. I was a chubby kid from Peabody, MA, who dreaded running the mile in gym class. However, as I grew up and took on a healthier lifestyle, little by little the pounds melted away and I was able to do more and more. Jogging became an exercise of choice for me and I started to run increasing mileage as I tried to push my limits. The Boston Marathon 2010 will be my first marathon, and by far the furthest I have ever run. I definitely have the running bug now and I love learning about it, thinking about it, and doing it. As I was looking through the different charities to run for, I had a hard choice to make; there are so many worthy causes. This year I am going to run for the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress. My minimum goal is to raise $3,250 for this worthy cause. I am proud to run for the MDSC in honor of a friend of the family – Kara Moccia. She is my inspiration. Another inspiration is my baby girl, Sarah Beth. Although she is only 3 months old, I hope to teach her to lead a healthy lifestyle and to always help others.

Amy Garvin of Medford, MA
I'm a nurse at Children's Hospital Boston. Running the Boston Marathon has always been a goal of mine, so I'm excited to be a part of the 114th running of the Boston Marathon. More importantly, I am proud to be a member of MDSC. My motivation to run Boston with MDSC is for my uncle who has Downs Syndrome and for all the children that I have taken care of over the years at Children's Hospital. They truly are all an inspiration. Training has not been the easiest for me. Its been frustrating and disappointing as I have been rehabbing and injury since September. Marathon Monday will be a challenge for me, but it is one that will take on with open arms. No matter how long it takes or how difficult it is to do, I will finish in Copley for my uncle and for all with Downs Syndrome.

Dave Kelleher, Newburyport,MA
I am the father of a child with Down Syndrome and currently serve on the Board of Directors for MDSC. I have been involved with the Marathon teams over the past two years and hoped to eventually run. After attending a few meetings and getting to know some of the runners, their enthusiasm got the best of me. So it was an easy decision to accept Susan Hurley's invitation to join the team. I may have started a bit late, but I am very excited and inspired by our cause and my fellow teammates, especially my friend Jack who is running in my daughter's honor.

Tami Burmeister, Brighton, MA
My five year old cousin was born with Down syndrome and has already faced and overcome more challenges within his short lifetime than many people will ever face. Running the Boston Marathon in his honor and for so many like him is a great privilege for me.

Rose Elin, Needham, MA
I am currently the lead teacher for the Learning Program. A monthly program that teaches literacy and math skills to children with Down syndrome. That experience has opened my eyes to children with Down syndrome and how amazing they are.

Richard Toronto, Northboro, MA
My daughter, Leah, is a terrific 14 year old who was born with Down syndrome. She has participated in programs and camps and I'd like to see her continue to reap the benefits of the MDSC. My wife has attended the MDSC Annual Conference in Worcester for several years and has found the event to be informative and fun. My daughter will be entering high school next year and will participate in the MDSC AIM program.

Scott Hilton, Atlanta, Georgia
I am running for my one year old son, Chase, who was born with Down syndrome on March 10 of 2009. It is a wonderful way to celebrate his first birthday and honor him.

Julienne Singer, Attleboro, MA
I have been interested in running the Boston Marathon for many years but I never had a connection to any of the charities that were participating, until now. My sister, Kelinda, has Down syndrome. I am honored to run for an organization that helps people with Down syndrome and the families that care for them. My sister is the happiest person I know. Ever since she was an infant, she has had an infectious smile and great attitude.

Christine Vital, Whittenville, MA
I have worked and volunteered on and off at Alternatives since college. I have enjoyed working one-to-one with individuals with Down syndrome and other disabilities and still have relationships with them outside of work. I would like to give back to help people with Down syndrome because they helped me become who I am today.

Allison Winacoo, Brighton, MA

My aunt has Down syndrome and I have grown up inspired by her warmth and strength. I am also aware of the unique challenges she faces and I'd love to run in honor of her.

Catherine Wolden, Pound Ridge, New York
I had a close friend growing up in Norway and her sister had Down syndrome. We played with her. She was amazing and touched my heart.

Jack Pattie, Newburyport, MA
I am running in honor of my good friend, David Kelleher's daughter, Amanda.

Emily LaMarca, Sterling, MA
My son, Cole, is three years old and has Down syndrome. We did not know before hand that Cole would have Down syndrome. When he was born, I was not very informed about Down syndrome. I want to run to help raise awareness for Down syndrome so that people who may be in my shoes will have more knowledge. Cole has made me prouder and prouder everyday. I have seen him accomplish so much and he truly inspires me.

Jacob French, Barrington, NH
I want to help a great charity that has impacted my life and many of my friends lives while pushing my body to its limit.

Kim Kasten, Upton, MA
I chose to run for the MDSC because I feel connected to Down syndrome through friends. I have read a lot about Down syndrome and believe in the passion these children provide our world.

Josh Parenteau, Scarborough, Maine
When my daughter, Breanna, was born five years ago and diagnosed with Down syndrome, our life changed dramatically and unexpectedly. In our first few months with Breanna, we struggled as a family trying to understand what we were up against because she was really our first exposure to Down syndrome. We did not understand much about it so we really needed a place to turn to for support and information. We heard about the MDSC from a community group in Southern Maine that we joined almost immediately after Breanna was born (our first Buddy Walk with MDSC was on October 10, 2004, she was born on October 8th.) We decided to attend the MDSC Annual Conference in March 05 when she was only five months old. My wife and I were so impressed with the unconditional acceptance of our child from everyone involved in the conference. It was evident from our experience at that event that MDSC is a powerful organization and truly has the ability to influence the public's perception of Down syndrome.
I learned about the opportunity to run the Boston Marathon in the MDSC newsletter and was immediately inspired to push myself to become more of an advocate and raise money for an organization that does such important work for people with Down syndrome. Since Breanna was born she has faced many challenges through open heart surgery, early intervention, therapies, etc. which have all required her to push herself so hard physically. It is so inspiring for me to see how hard she works day after day, she is an amazing little girl. I want to use this experience to show her someday that I did something extraordinary by achieving my fundraising goal and finishing the Boston Marathon as an example that there is nothing that she can't accomplish in life as long as she is willing to work hard which I know she will.

Paul Cassidy, Albuquerque, New Mexico
My wife, Connie, works in a special needs Elementary School in New Mexico. She loves working with children with special needs. When selecting a charity, the MDSC was her first choice. Thank you for selecting me.

Renee Compiano, Cary, North Carolina
I am running for the MDSC because I have a friend who has a sister with Down syndrome.

Christopher Cassidy, BAAR, Switzerland

I am running the Boston Marathon for MDSC because my mother has worked with children with learning disabilities for almost 20 years and I also want the opportunity to run with my father.

James Davis, Norton, MA
I am running for the MDSC because my sister was diagnosed with Down syndrome at birth. We grew up in a single-parent household and spent a wonderful childhood together. I saw the struggles my mother endured caring for and raising a child with special needs. I agree with MDSC's mission statement and wish an organization like yours had been around for us. I firmly believe that persons with Down syndrome must be understood and included as they can contribute a great deal to our world. My sister is nearly 40 now and has been diagnosed with a rare neuro-degenerative condition that will shortly take her life. Therefore, I run for her and so other families can have the support we didn't.

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