The idea for this week’s inspirational thought came from two places: 

1.  I recently read an article in Running Times, in which Jim Gerweck, an editor at large, laments the fact that running seems to have become less about competition, and more about “participation.” He’s not happy with big charities or organizations that are not related to running, and their use of marathons and other races to raise money for their causes. I was quite angry by that article (and can’t stand Jim Gerweck in general because of his elitist running attitude) and wanted to write a rebuttal to him, but thought I could only do it in a negative way, and I’m trying not to be like that, but someone needs to knock him off of his high horse.)

2.  Last week, one of my favorite radio stations did their annual radio/telethon to raise money for Children’s Hospital, here in Boston. The stories you hear from families make you cry, from happiness and sadness.  I thought to myself, “Corey. We need to hear it from him, what it’s like to raise money for this organization, and what he’s seen and felt.  He can show what ‘participation’ is all about.”

The following is from my friend, Corey Canada, who is running his second Boston Marathon this spring. I’m also attaching pictures here which he sent me last year, from when he first met  Abi, and well, the others are quite obvious as to where they were taken. 🙂

By the way, I am going to give Corey guest privileges on this blog (think it’s easy to do), so if you’d like to leave comments directly for him, please feel free to do so!

How often when you are running, do you take a minute and think to yourself about how lucky you have the ability to do so? Lucky to see  the smile on someone’s face as you pass them on a path or as you run past a playground to hear the laughter of a young girl as she yells “hammer time” and jumps off the slide and clobbers her brother 😉 . I was lucky enough to have been able to run last year’s Boston Marathon as a member of the Children’s Hospital Marathon Team and have that honor again this year. The experience has given me a much greater appreciation for the fact that I get to do and see these kinds of things whenever I choose!! 

As part of the experience of running the marathon on the Children’s Hospital Team each runner is paired with a current patient of Children’s Hospital. It is with great honor and pride that I am once again running for my patient partner Abi Simpson, an ADORABLE 7 year old girl who was born with a very rare condition called Chromosome 2q Deletion. When she was born, a piece of the long arm (q) of chromosome 2 was deleted and it affects her globally. She is legally blind, non-verbal, non-mobile, hard-of-hearing, and developmentally delayed.

Corey Canada and Abi Simpson

Corey Canada and Abi Simpson

 I will admit, the reason I decided to run the Boston Marathon was for bragging rights, so I could run a faster time than my friend and rub his nose in it. Not the nicest reason, I will admit, but I am really not a mean person…I’m just being truthful. That being said, it didn’t take long for that reason to change from being about trying to running faster than this person or finish ahead of that one. From the 1st meeting I had with Abi and her family, it became all about raising money and supporting an organization that helps care for, and in some cases save the lives, of thousands of children like Abi each year. 

Training for this year’s marathon has been quite a different experience from last year.  A season of pounding on the pavement has worn on my knees quite a bit. A plantar fasciitis injury sidelined me from running for almost 5 months during the summer and fall, and sapped a lot of the endurance I had built up.  Add that to an absolutely STUPID winter, and 2 separate week-long bouts of sickness, and it’s been a tough road. This was all stuff that I didn’t have to contend with when training for the race last year. It is hard to keep your spirits up and plug away at the miles and the hills when things keep popping up that try to knock the motivation right out of you. But the one thing that hasn’t changed from last year to this year is the feeling in my heart that I have for Abi and the other kids being helped by Children’s Hospital. That feeling is enough to cancel out any set back that I have encountered so far.

A friend mine asked me what was the best experience of the marathon last year. It was weird because I went through a list of things that could have been an answer.  Seeing the crowds and hearing them scream my name that I had written on the front of my singlet. The tears and emotion that I had when I saw my mom and siblings and Abi and her mother at the turn on to Boylston Street. Running the last .2 miles down Boylston Street, pushing Abi in her chair and having a runner that finished next to me tell me that seeing us cross the finish line and hear how loud people were cheering our names was the best moment he had all day.

Corey Canada and Abi Simpson, check out her sign!

Corey Canada and Abi Simpson, check out her sign!

It was after I had thought about it for a short time that he I realized that best moment of the whole experience wasn’t even during the race but after.  It was giving Noelia, Abi’s mom, a hug and thanking her for allowing me to be a part of an experience that meant more to me than words could express. It was getting to see her face as I placed an official finisher’s medal around Abi’s neck that had been given to me for her by a volunteer. He asked if I had run the whole race with her. I told him I only pushed her down Boylston Street but she was with me the whole 26.2. He promptly said “then she gets a medal too.”  Abi was with me when I was on the “flat” parts in Natick and Wellesley; she was with me when my legs were on fire running the down hills after Boston College. She kept me going when my knees hurt so bad I had to walk during mile 23 and again during mile 24.I can say with 100% certainty that on the 2oth of April when I run Boston for the 2nd time, she will be with me every step of the way on that day as well.
It has been a pleasure and a blessing getting to know Abi and her family, other families and patient partners, runners, volunteers, and Children’s Hospital staff. It also made me realize how easy I have it and when it comes right down to it, the challenge of running 26.2 miles is NOTHING compared to some of the challenges that some of these children and their families face every single day.

I asked Corey how his company works with Children’s Hospital, and he explained it below:

I am lucky enough to work for a company that has a great relationship with Children’s Hospital. I work for EasCorp which is a Corporate Credit Union located in Burlington. EasCorp, along with a large group of our Member Credit Union Sponsors, has formed The Credit Union Kids at Heart Marathon Team in support of Children’s Hospital and to date has helped raise nearly $3 million for Children’s Hospital in the last 10+ years. The biggest fundraising effort is through the 10 marathon numbers that are given to the group as a whole. Each year the fundraising efforts are responsible for helping raise over $100k at Marathon time. It is amazing to see the hard work and dedication that people put in each year to make sure that the fundraising goals are met.  My fundraising is another reason why running the marathon for Children’s Hospital has become such a special experience – knowing that money that I have received from friends, family, coworkers in support of my running could help save a child’s life or make the quality of their life better, if even for short amount of time.

Terri’s note – please click on the link to Credit Union Kids at Heart Marathon Team above to see the rest of Corey’s running and patient teammates.

Should you desire to make a donation, any amount can help.  Corey’s goal is to raise $10,000.  Donations can be sent to the following address, and made payable to EasCorp FFB: Children’s Hospital Boston:

Attention: Corey Canada
35 Corporate Drive
Burlington, MA 01803

To my blogging friends out there, please consider sending the link to this post out there to anyone who you think can help, I would REALLY appreciate it, as would the kids at Children’s Hospital. (Corey did not know I was going to add this last request to this post, by the way.)