On April 16, 39 employees from Mass General for Children (MGfC) and Massachusetts General Hospital laced up their running shoes for the 122nd annual Boston Marathon. To wish them well, Mass General hosted a send-off celebration on April 12 for their incredible 26.2-mile journeys.
“It is important now to take a moment and be proud of yourselves and what you’ve already accomplished,” said Lindsay Carter, MD, the celebration’s keynote speaker, pediatric hospitalist and inpatient director of Quality and Safety at MGfC. “In my house, we have a saying that the negative screams, but the positive only whispers. It’s different on marathon day - the positive literally screams at you for 26.2 miles. Let’s go out there and be Boston Strong, MGH proud and have an awesome race day.”
Also at the celebration was Jessica Kensky, RN, and her husband, Patrick Downes, of Cambridge, Mass. Kensky, a former oncology nurse on Lunder 10 at Mass General, and Downes were injured in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Kensky lost her left leg below the knee and later opted to amputate her right leg after a difficult recovery. Downes also lost his left leg. Together, they recently published a book called “Rescue and Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship,” about Kensky’s relationship with her service dog, Rescue, a jolly black lab with a big heart.
“The marathon has great meaning in our house, as does Mass General. After the bombing, we became recipients of all the love and care we show our patients every day as providers,” said Kensky. “Our journey has been a long one and although ours was very sudden and public, it’s not unlike many of the journeys our patients take every day in a more private way.”
For many runners, the marathon route is a course full of triumph, doubt and many more ups and downs. “When you’re on the marathon course, it is the most spiritual of experiences,” said Downes, who also lost his left leg in the bombing. “Marathon day is a celebratory day for us and we are grateful to all of you who run and care for your patients and families.”
The send-off came to a close with wise words from Ted Karras, offensive lineman for the New England Patriots, who visited pediatric patients in Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at MGfC earlier that day. “Running a marathon is such an accomplishment and I wish you all well,” said Karras. “Always remember why you’re running. It’s what brings you back to your purpose and why you do what you do.”