After losing her father to lung cancer in 2012, Bridget Kearney took to running as a way to cope with grief. Mile after mile, Kearney felt the presence of her father, who was an avid runner himself. Five years on, Kearney is honoring her father’s legacy by running the 2018 Boston Marathon as part of the Fighting Kids’ Cancer… One Step at a Time marathon team at MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC), a place that touched her heart just two years ago.
In the winter of 2016, Kearney, 25, and her colleagues from the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston visited Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at MGHfC to donate teddy bears to pediatric patients. The donation was part of the hotel’s annual Teddy Bear Tea, an event for children, families and beloved stuffed animals to celebrate the season and read holiday storybooks over tea and treats. That same year, a close friend of Bridget’s was also diagnosed with brain cancer and received treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital.
“I have so many ties to Mass General. I remember visiting the pediatric cancer unit and just having my eyes fill with tears because I felt so helpless to anyone fighting cancer,” said Kearney, who grew up in Rocky Hill, Conn., and now lives in South Boston, Mass. “Cancer has impacted my life in so many ways, and since then Four Seasons has donated another round of teddy bears to the hospital and we’ve worked with Dr. [Howard] Weinstein for many years before that. Running the marathon is my way of giving back.”
Lacing up her running shoes is also a way to recognize the hardships she’s encountered since her father’s passing. “These past five years have been the toughest years of my life and I thought there’s no better way to represent those years than by doing something physically tough,” said Kearney. “This is my first marathon and it’s such an interesting feeling. When I am having a tough day of training, I think about the reasons why I’m running and it wakes me right up. I think about what life would be like if cancer didn’t exist. It burns a fire in you, an ambition you didn’t know you had, when you think about the opportunities to raise money and support a cause that has changed your life so much. I am beyond honored to run for MGHfC and Mass General.”