Though Rushern has never run a marathon, running the Boston Marathon has always been a personal goal for him. As the county executive of Prince George’s County, Maryland, Rushern has been heavily involved in philanthropic efforts in the Washington, D.C., area, including the Living Classrooms Foundation, which provides hands-on education and job training to youth in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Rushern heard about Team Eye and Ear through friends, and is running to raise funds and awareness for the Stankovic Hearing Research Fund, which aims to understand, prevent and treat hearing loss.
Craig Brodie ran his first marathon this year and was only 10 minutes away from qualifying for Boston on his own, so he’s eager to run his first Boston Marathon for Team Eye and Ear. On his marathon run, Craig was able to push himself through rolling hills, very stiff headwinds for half the race, and even a leg cramp. “I constantly push myself mentally as I run,” says Craig, who loves the mental challenge of running. As a financial professional in Children’s Hospital’s Ophthalmology Dept., Craig understands the importance of eye health. Craig sees running for Mass. Eye and Ear as “an amazing opportunity to reach a fundraising goal and a personal athletic goal.”
Michael Cannistraro and his family have deep, abiding ties with Mass. Eye and Ear. Not only is Michael a patient, but other family members have received care here as well, and his sister, Ann Marie Cotton, has served as a trustee in the past. Michael, an acclaimed public speaker on the topics of Building Information Modeling (BIM), works as an engineer for J.C. Cannistraro, L.L.C., which has handled various projects for Mass. Eye and Ear. Michael is also a devoted runner who took up the sport as a means to lose weight and stay in shape. Having lost 50 pounds since May 2013, Michael’s goal is to make his hometown Boston Marathon his first marathon run.
Joan Caragher, M.D.
West Newbury, Mass.
Dr. Joan Caragher, a onetime emergency room physician in Wyoming, suffered a drug-resistant parasite infection in one of her eyes after swimming in a public pool two years ago. Due to light sensitivity, she was unable to work or leave her home for about five months. Joan’s only option was a cornea transplant, which was performed by Dr. Jim Chodosh. This past June, after several contact lens fittings, Joan has regained her sight. “I have a profound appreciation for healthy vision,” says Joan, who has since relocated to Greater Boston. “I always said that if I ever regained 20-20 vision, I’d run the marathon for the organization that gave me my life back.”
Jenaro is excited to join Team Eye and Ear for his third Boston Marathon. In addition to running five other marathons, he has participated in two full Iron Man races and three Pan Mass Challenges. Jenaro was inspired to join Team Eye and Ear after learning about the team from one of his colleagues, who ran for Team Eye and Ear in the past. Jenaro looks forward to supporting and raising funds for Dr. Hartnick’s team.
After finishing an ironman competition in Panama City, Fla., Bill Casey felt that his voice was changing and he developed a lump in his neck. After being diagnosed near his Newport, R.I., home, the owner of Casey’s Marina came under the care of Dr. Dan Deschler. Bill, who didn’t start participating in endurance races until he was in his early 40s, underwent surgery and chemotherapy/radiation treatments. Now, back in running form, the veteran runner plans to run his third Boston Marathon for Team Eye and Ear. “I am a cancer survivor because of Dr. Deschler and Mass. Eye and Ear,” says Bill. “Because of him and Mass. Eye and Ear, I discovered that you can stand up to cancer.”
As a former soccer player at Williams College, running became second nature for Caitlyn Clark, who has yet to kick the running habit. In fact, running is in the Clark blood, as her father ran the Boston Marathon when she was a toddler. In addition to her family’s marathon connection, Caitlyn has close ties with Mass. Eye and Ear as well. As an intern, she assisted Dr. Tot Tan in developing a chapter for the textbook, Facial Surgery: Plastic and Reconstructive, and the young investment analyst’s mother recently received treatment at Mass. Eye and Ear.
In 2000, Taylor Coon’s father was diagnosed with a serious illness, and came under the care of Dr. Evangelos Gragoudas, and his team. After two years of treatment, Taylor’s father has been healthy. “Mass. Eye and Ear has saved my dad’s life and has kept him healthy for 14 years,” says Taylor. “I can’t think of a better reason to run.” Taylor was born with a club foot, and although it was corrected before she turned one, “my feet definitely are not made for running.” But that hasn’t stopped Taylor, who has run three half-marathons and would like Boston to be her first full marathon. “I want to prove to myself and others that even with physical ailments, you can do anything you put your mind to!”
Pete Creighton, M.D. (Employee)
Dr. Pete Creighton will bring a special perspective to this year’s Team Eye and Ear. Now a third-year resident at Mass. Eye and Ear, Dr. Creighton was on duty as an intern when word of the Boston Marathon bombings reached the hospital. “I’ve wanted to run the race ever since,” admits the third-year resident. “But my training schedule has prevented me from doing so until this year.” In addition to soliciting support from family, friends and colleagues, Dr. Creighton will work extra shifts to raise the funds needed to reach his target.
Support Dr. Creighton
Only Dunkin’ Donuts could lure a native Southern Californian and avid surfer to Boston and several feet of snow. A senior creative executive with Hill Holiday in Boston, Chris D’Amico journeyed east to assume responsibility for the firm’s Dunkin’ Donuts account. Also an ear, nose and throat patient at Mass. Eye and Ear, Chris claims to be a novice runner, yet somehow finds time to log 20 miles a week. He also completed the 2011 Cape Cod Bay Challenge, a 36-mile stand-up surfboard paddle across the bay that raised $100,000 for Mass General’s Christopher’s Haven. “I paddled with a bunch of welcoming strangers for 10 hours,” says Chris. “We had a ton of fun raising $100,000 for a little charity that does great good for kids and their families.”
After being diagnosed with a rare cancer of the salivary gland, Stevie DeGroff was “blindsided and lost.” Soon after her diagnosis, the native Texan – who has lived in Boston since her college days – turned to Dr. James Rocco, then of Mass. Eye and Ear. “The caring team at Mass. Eye and Ear is why I was able to get through a very difficult situation with more smiles than tears,” said Stevie, who recently trained in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, along the River Seine. “The positive energy and genuine concern for both my health and my state of mind made me feel like I had a safe space at a very scary time. . . . There’s no better way for me to give back to Mass. Eye and Ear than by lending my legs to the cause.”
New York, N.Y.
Growing up on the North Shore, Margaret Dickinson always knew that she wanted to run the Boston Marathon. She chose Team Eye and Ear “out of gratitude for all the support” for family and friends who are being treated here. A close friend of Margaret’s was diagnosed with a serious eye disease, and has undergone more than 10 surgeries at Mass. Eye and Ear and continues to be treated at the hospital. In addition, many of Margaret’s family members have been diagnosed with a genetic eye disease. “Watching this disease take its toll on the people I love, and the reality that I will likely be directly affected by this condition one day, motivates me to run to support Mass. Eye and Ear and their research,” says Margaret.
Although Lisa Fleming, and her husband, Russ, have run for Team Eye and Ear in the past, Lisa is flying solo this year. Lisa is running in appreciation of the excellent care that her daughter, Emily, received for corneal lacerations from Mass. Eye and Ear’s Dr. Kathryn Colby. “This winter has challenged all of us with the endless storms, and running has been trickier than ever,” admits Lisa. “But we're so fortunate to be connected to such an outstanding institution that provides excellent, personalized care to every patient; we’re so lucky to have Mass. Eye and Ear within driving distance to our home.”
South Boston, Mass.
The Boston Marathon has always brought special memories and excitement for Meredith Frechette-Moulter. “From passing out orange slices on Beacon Street to cheering outside of Boston College on Heartbreak Hill, Marathon Monday always feels like ‘Christmas in April’ to me,” says Meredith, who is running her first marathon to honor the memory of Phil Mulvey, her former coach. She’ll run alongside Phil’s wife, Terry, and daughters Erin, Sarah and Hannah. Phil taught Meredith that “with dedication, preparation and teamwork, I could accomplish anything set in front of me, so this year’s marathon will have extra special meaning for me."
As someone with chronic ear issues, Melissa Fulkerson was not surprised when her doctor noticed that she had a hole in her eardrum. She was referred to Dr. Ron DeVenecia at Mass. Eye and Ear. “I had surgery in the fall of 2012, and was good as new within just a few weeks. I have always felt like I was in capable hands with the doctors, nurses and staff who care and enjoy what they do.” Later, when her good friend mentioned that her son was being treated for Stargardt disease at Mass. Eye and Ear, Melissa decided to join Team Eye and Ear to raise funds for research to find cures for this inherited blinding disease.
Despite being a junior tennis player for 15 years -- and an avid sports fan to boot -- Laura Gollinger hated long distance running, noting that “a mile could have been ten miles in my mind.” However, after moving to Manhattan to work, Laura’s competitive instincts kicked in and she began to run around Central Park, gaining a newfound love for the activity. When she moved back to Boston, she trained along the Charles River and started running half-marathons and triathlons. An experienced fund raiser, Laura is excited to tackle the Boston Marathon for Team Eye and Ear.
Stephanie Gooltz (Employee)
Certified Ophthalmic Assistant Stephanie Gooltz works at Mass. Eye and Ear, Longwood, which is very family-oriented because it’s a small facility. “Whether you’re providing someone with a prescription for glasses or holding a hand during an eye procedure, you get to know the patients better because you see them more often,” says Stephanie, an avid runner who has run a couple half-marathons. When she took a relative to the Mass. Eye and Ear Emergency Department to treat a vision-threatening injury, Stephanie experienced the care up close, and liked what she saw. Although she’s experienced skydiving, Stephanie calls running the Boston Marathon “the scariest thing I have done.”
Bill Grady heard about Team Eye and Ear from a good friend, Stu Weiner, who has run with Team Eye and Ear in the past. A veteran “tough mudder” participant, Bill also has other personal connections to Mass. Eye and Ear, where a close colleague who passed away was treated for brain cancer. “I would like to run for Team Eye and Ear to help those who suffer from conditions that impact their everyday lives,” Bill said. His first Boston Marathon, like all of his other marathons, will hold special purpose. Bill is running the 2015 Boston Marathon in memory of his father, who passed away in 2010 after a 14 year battle with cancer, and his best friend, who passed away from leukemia in 2012.
As a former tennis player, Missy Greene is a determined competitor. When she sets her mind to accomplish a task, she typically gets the job done. So it was with a half-marathon that she ran in October 2013. Despite sustaining chipped elbow-bone fragments from a fall a week before the race, Missy gamely struggled through and completed the half marathon. Her determination, in part, can be traced to the lessons she learned from deceased Coach Phil Mulvey, a former Mass. Eye and Ear patient whose family is also running for Team Eye and Ear in his memory. “Coach Phil taught us about the value of teamwork,” says Missy. “He was an incredible mentor.”
Paul Kalina, M.D.
Dr. Paul Kalina, an ophthalmologist in Minnesota, credits Mass. Eye and Ear for his professional success. He says the training and experience he received during his fellowship was the busiest, most challenging, yet most rewarding time of his medical career. He has remained in contact with his colleagues at Mass. Eye and Ear and ran the 2013 and 2014 Boston Marathons. Unable to finish the 2013 race due to the tragic bombings, Paul completed the race in 2014 with his oldest son, Andrew. His fundraising will support glaucoma research.
Upon learning that her father’s cancer was simply due to “bad luck,” Kirsten Karis noted that cancer is “scary, unrelenting and indiscriminately cruel.” After undergoing a laryngectomy at Mass. General, her father was in need of further treatment, and came under the care of Mass. Eye and Ear’s Dr. Dan Deschler. “The experience of having my father go through major surgery twice was terrifying, but knowing he was in such good hands at Mass. Eye and Ear made it a little bit easier,” says Kirsten. “Everyone worked so hard to make my father comfortable and also to make my mother and I feel welcomed.”
Robert Knapp joins Team Eye and Ear for his fifth Boston Marathon. As a parent of a Mass. Eye and Ear patient, Robert understands the importance of patient care. Robert is teaming up with his former college roommate, Dr. Christopher Hartnick, on Team Eye and Ear to raise funds for pediatric airway research and patient care.
We could all use a friend like Cindy Langer, who is running in honor of a close friend's son, an 11-year-old who is battling a rare eye disease that will eventually cost him his vision. “He's truly a marvel to watch because while he is doing all the typical boy activities you'd expect of a boy his age – soccer, swimming, running and skiing – he’s doing so with only 10 percent of the vision that you and I have,” says Cindy, who is running to support the Ocular Genomics Institute Fund. “I could not be more excited to join this elite team and to help advance the truly inspiring research of Mass. Eye and Ear.”
Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Before Norm Levy was diagnosed with early onset advanced macular degeneration in 2012, he had never run more than 100 feet. Six months after his diagnosis, Norm had run the Manchester, N.H., Marathon, and finished the Hartford Marathon last October. A patient of Dr. Eliot Berson, Norm is running to support Mass. Eye and Ear’s Ocular Genomics Institute. “I continue to run to prove that this illness will not define me or limit my ability to accomplish extraordinary things,” says Norm. “I will be running in the 2015 Boston Marathon on Team Eye & Ear to raise funds which will allow the heroes at Mass. Eye and Ear to continue working tirelessly to find a cure for those who have been stricken by this disease.”
A Team Eye and Ear veteran, Will McNamara returns this April for his seventh Boston Marathon. He suffered a mountain biking accident near Vail, Colo., eight years ago. During surgery, he had a stroke to the optic nerve in both eyes, leaving him legally blind. Will runs with the hope that one day the research he is supporting will help restore his vision and help others who have had similar experiences. “Dr. Joseph Rizzo at Mass. Eye an Ear has given me inspiration to move forward in my life after losing my sight,” Will explains. “It gives me a great feeling to be part of his team!”
Kristen Mitchell will never forget the day when her mother called from Mass. Eye and Ear to tell her that she had eye cancer. “My mom has always been the strongest person in my life, and hearing the fear and sense of helplessness in her voice, I knew her life, and by extension our family's lives, would never be the same. I remember saying to her at one point, ‘Mom, you have run marathons…if you can do that, you can get through anything!’” Thankfully her mother was cared for by Dr. Evangelos Gragoudas, a pioneer in eye cancer treatment. Now Kristen is running with Team Eye and Ear in honor of her mother’s continuing journey.
As a mother of two young children, a military wife, a full-time IT project manager, a graduate student, and a Junior League volunteer, Jennifer Mullen has taken multi-tasking to a new level. Despite the chaotic schedule, Jennifer will somehow find time to train for and run in the 2015 Boston Marathon for Team Eye and Ear. Jennifer’s children, both under five years of age, were Mass. Eye and Ear patients who suffered from perpetual ear infections as infants. “Because Mass. Eye and Ear helped to provide a better life for my children, I want to give back in any way that I can,” says Jennifer.
An avid runner and cross-fit training participant, Erin Mulvey will join her sisters and mother in running the 2015 Boston Marathon in memory of her father, Phil, a former Mass. Eye and Ear patient who passed away in May after a battle with oral cancer. An amateur cellist who has volunteered for “Light the Night” and “Last Hope” K-9 dog rescue, Erin will bring her fund-raising prowess to bear for Team Eye and Ear. “Everyone involved with my father’s care treated him – and us – as if we were the most important people at the hospital that day,” says Erin. “We’ll never forget the experience.”
Phil Mulvey coached every team that his daughter, Hannah, played for as a child. So when the time came to cheer on Phil when he was battling advanced oral cancer at Mass. Eye and Ear, Hannah came to 243 Charles Street as often as her busy schedule as a student-athlete at Boston College allowed. According to Hannah, Phil’s doctor, Dan Deschler, M.D., “was incredibly patient and always took the extra time to explain to me what was happening.” When Phil lost his battle in May, Hannah and her mother and sisters decided to run the 2015 Boston Marathon in memory of Phil.
While Sarah Mulvey was a lacrosse player at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., her father, Phil, missed only five of her 72 games. In addition to frequent trips to Virginia, Phil traveled to Texas, California and Oregon to root for Sarah. “Even though cancer took his life, without Mass. Eye and Ear my father would not have been able to see my little sister graduate from college, my older sister get engaged and my mom complete her first ironman competition,” says Sarah. “Thanks to Mass. Eye and Ear, my father lived long enough to see his family prosper.” Sarah will join her sisters and mother in running for Team Eye and Ear.
For Dr. Therese Mulvey and her three daughters, running the 2015 Boston Marathon is truly a family affair. As an oncologist and cancer survivor, Therese knew the long and winding road facing her husband, Phil, when he was diagnosed with oral cancer. Although Phil lost his battle last May, the “amazing care” that he received from Dan Deschler, M.D., and other Mass. Eye and Ear caregivers has inspired Therese and daughters Erin, Hannah, and Sarah to run for Team Eye and Ear this spring.
A Back Bay native, Alison Newman and her family members are no strangers to Mass. Eye and Ear. “The doctors have proved again and again that they care about their patients,” says Alison, “and the work that Mass. Eye and Ear does has such a huge impact on their patients’ quality of life and how they perceive the world.” Now a student at Duke Law School, Alison is excited to come back to Boston and run for Team Eye and Ear. From participating in the New England Spartan Sprint to ducking sheep while running as an undergraduate student in Scotland, Alison knows that she can survive a long, hazardous run. “After I survived being scratched, bruised and muddy, I’ve never quit a training run, says Alison.
When she heard from her father that he had a serious illness of the neck, Kelsey Nickerson remembered that as “the scariest day” of her young life. While meeting with Mass. Eye and Ear’s Dr. Dan Deschler, who calmly told her father that “this is just going to be a speed bump in your life,” Kelsey and her family felt great relief. “Thanks to Mass. Eye and Ear, I’m so happy to say that my dad got over the speed bump and today is cancer free,” said Kelsey. “I am so honored to run for Mass. Eye and Ear.”
A veteran of both the Chicago and Boston marathons, Michelle Nickerson is teaming up with her daughter Kelsey to raise funds for Mass. Eye and Ear. When Michelle’s husband, Larry, was diagnosed with cancer a few days after last year’s Boston Marathon, he came under the care of Dr. Daniel Deschler who successfully operated a few days after the diagnosis. "We knew that we were in the best hands with Dr. Deschler and Mass. Eye and Ear," says Michelle, a group fitness instructor. "When Kelsey decided to run to give back to Mass. Eye and Ear, she inspired me to join the cause."
After months of preparing for the 2012 New York City Marathon, Britt Plante ran headlong into a hurricane. Literally. Hurricane Sandy struck New Jersey and the New York City metro area shortly before the race, necessitating its cancelation. Along with many other runners, Brit volunteered to help those negatively affected by Sandy. She has since run the Myles Standish Marathon on Cape Cod, but Boston will be her first major marathon. A teacher at The Berkshire School in Sheffield, Mass., Britt is close friends with Brittany Williams, a pediatric nurse at Mass. Eye and Ear who ran for Team Eye and Ear last year.
Sally Ankeny Reiley
Sally Ankeny Reiley is no stranger to Mass. Eye and Ear. She serves as a trustee and members of her family -- including her grandmother, grandfather and father -- were patients. Sally is grateful for the care that her family has received and is excited to support Mass. Eye and Ear’s vision-research efforts. The 2015 Boston Marathon will be Sally’s second marathon with Team Eye and Ear. Last year she had a great run: Not only was she our team’s top fundraiser, but she was our fastest runner as well. Sally has set the bar high, but we can’t wait to see what she’ll do this year.
Chestnut Hill, Mass.
When she runs the Boston Marathon for Team Eye and Ear this year, Boston College student Juliette Reynolds will be finishing the race she started in 2013. She was less than half a mile from the finish line when a terrorist attack upended one of Boston’s most cherished traditions. A part-time personal trainer when not hitting the books at The Heights, Juliette runs about 30 miles a week, and has seven half-marathons under her belt (in addition to the nearly completed 2013 Boston Marathon). “Almost finishing the Boston Marathon gave me the confidence in myself to achieve more than I ever imagined,” says Juliette. “I would love to have the opportunity to finish the race that I started two years ago.”
Willoughby Hills, Ohio
A champion fundraiser, Roger Rocha has a great sense of humor. Roger started the Krispy Kreme Doughnut Dash in Birmingham, Ala., raising $31,000 in two years for Children’s Hospital of Alabama. The fun part? Runners would race 2.5 miles, eat a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and then proceed to burn off the calories (hopefully) on the 2.5 miles back to the finish line. Roger is also an experienced runner, having run one 50-kilometer race, seven marathons and 10 half-marathons. Now an Ohio resident, Roger plans on running over 1,400 miles this year alone, and can’t wait to run in the “superbowl of marathons” for Team Eye and Ear.
Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Michael Rudden is a young man who doesn’t take his eyesight for granted. A Boston College student, Michael battles astigmatism and he has a history of poor vision in his family. An avid runner who logs about 24 miles a week, Michael set his sights on running the Boston Marathon after the bombings in 2013. “Eyesight is something that I cherish every day,” says Michael. “My father suffered from a rare disease of the eye that would have blinded him in one eye had it not been for the skills and quick action of his optometrist, so I have a great appreciation for optometrists and ophthalmologists.”
Three years ago, Diane Schiavo’s daughter was diagnosed at Mass. Eye and Ear with an eye condition that causes the retina to detach. Despite two surgeries and several laser treatments, Diane’s daughter lost all vision in her right eye, but has adjusted well and is now on her school’s ski team. Diane, her daughter and her family were touched by the caring and impressed with the professionalism and knowledge of Dr. Shizuo Mukai and other Mass. Eye and Ear caregivers. “Everyone we speak with always takes the time to make sure that we understand what’s going on,” says Diane, whose innovative fundraising efforts will include concerts or an in-home “drive-in” to help “Mass. Eye and Ear provide quality care for future patients.”
A mild-mannered information technology director by day, Michael Schiavo goes into “beast mode” when away from the office, coaching and playing hockey, running, playing softball, golfing and taking part in endurance events like the Spartan Beast on Killington Mountain in Vermont. Michael finished his first Spartan Beast, a grueling 16-mile trek up and down the obstacle-filled mountain in 6.5 hours. Each year, it was made exponentially more difficult, forcing Michael to finish in 8.5 hours in 2013 and 9.5 hours in 2014. “They wanted people to tap out and quit, but not me,” said Michael, who’s running to raise research fund that he hopes will benefit his mother, who suffers from severe ear problems.
Carolyn Shea (Employee)
As the manager of the Glaucoma Service at Mass. Eye and Ear, Carolyn Shea witnesses daily the debilitating effects that this blinding disease can have on a person’s quality of life. “I feel privileged to be able to care for patients,” says Carolyn. “It’s my goal to try to make their lives better in any way I can.” This year, Carolyn returns for her 15th Boston Marathon and her fifth as a member of Team Eye and Ear. Although a Boston Marathon veteran, Carolyn’s best time came in 1978, when she finished in three hours and 25 minutes as a “bandit” runner, back when unregistered running was treated with a wink and a nod. She is running to support the Glaucoma Compassionate Care Fund, which helps patients who cannot afford their medicine receive the drugs needed to help preserve their vision.
San Diego, Calif.
Although a teacher in sunny San Diego, Amy Spelta is a native Bostonian, and Mass. Eye and Ear has played a significant role in her family’s genetic fight against glaucoma. She ran the San Diego Marathon 15 years ago, and has run the San Diego Rock and Roll Half-Marathon each year since. “’Running Boston’ has always been a pipe dream of mine," admits Amy. "I figured that since I would never run fast enough to qualify for Boston, I would happily run half-marathons in San Diego forever. I could not be more excited to help advance the innovative research that not only benefits my family, but also gives hope to glaucoma sufferers around the world.”
Janet Spinney is no stranger to running marathons, Boston in particular. Janet, who ran her third Boston Marathon last year for Team Eye and Ear, said she “had a great experience and would like to do so again.” So she will. Janet’s mother was being treated for Alzheimer’s Disease at Mass. Eye and Ear before she passed away earlier this year. “I have seen first-hand how caring the doctors are and would love to support such a great organization.” In addition to running, the “extremely busy” mother of four teenagers is also very active in her community, volunteering and donating to local charities.
Jennifer Street (Employee)
This will be Jennifer Street’s 24th year playing a role –“however small,” as she modestly says – in the Boston Marathon. The first 18 years were spent producing WBZ-TV's coverage of the race, but almost eight years ago Jennifer joined the Mass. Eye and Ear team as Vice President, Communications & Planning. Since coming to Charles Street, Jennifer has witnessed miracles both large and small, and is convinced that Mass. Eye and Ear is where scientists will find a cure for glaucoma, a painful and blinding disease that affects her family. Both of her sons have also been Mass. Eye and Ear patients, and in 2008 she underwent surgery at Mass. Eye and Ear to remove a damaging cyst in her vocal fold, which restored her voice to normal. “Believe it or not, I don't love to run,” says Jennifer. “But I do love how it makes me feel, and I hope in some small way, that by doing this, I'll help others feel a little bit better, too.”
Although his first competitive race – a Thanksgiving “turkey trot” in 2006 – had him questioning “the advantage of running any distance greater than that to the refrigerator,” Michael Stuart persevered, and this Texan has since joined his fellow Team Eye and Ear member Jim Windlinger in his quest to run half-marathons or marathons in all 50 states and in D.C. Believe it or not, they’ve done so in 49 states and in D.C., and the duo are saving the best – the Boston Marathon – for last. “I have successfully avoided major injury, unemployment, bankruptcy and divorce while completing my last 36 half-marathons in 36 different states in 35 months,” says Mike, laughing. “I have to say that I have a very supportive wife and employer, as well as a well-used American Airlines frequent-flier account.”
Boynton Beach, Fla.
A Framingham, Mass., native, Allyson Sullivan is all-too familiar with the Boston Marathon, which bisects her hometown each April. Now a long-time Florida resident, Allyson was inspired to run for Team Eye and Ear by a close friend, Bob, who was gravely ill with esophageal cancer two years ago. Bob’s plight spurred Allyson to take up running, and although he is now cancer free, Allyson continues to jog. “I was never an athlete, nor did I ever in my wildest dreams imagine I would ever be able to run a marathon,” admits Allyson, who has since run one full marathon and 20 half-marathons. “While running, I often think about how lucky I am to be able to run.”
Richard returns to Team Eye and Ear for his 20th Boston Marathon and his fifth marathon as a member of Team Eye and Ear. Richard has been involved in the development of medical devices and biotechnology products for a number of years, and has also played a key role in the creation of Laser Vision Correction and LASIK technology. He understands the importance of medical research in improving the quality of life of people around the world. “Mass. Eye and Ear is one of the great healthcare and research institutions in Boston,” Richard says. “It’s an honor to run for Team Eye and Ear this year.”
Nicole Thurber was encouraged to join Team Eye and Ear by her friend, Rebecca, who ran last year. As a nurse and as a former patient of Mass. Eye and Ear, Nicole has a rare perspective on Mass. Eye and Ear. “I have not heard of a bad experience at Mass. Eye and Ear,” Nicole says. Although she only started running a couple of years ago, she’s already run one marathon and three half-marathons. She also completed the brutal Tough Mudder completion in 2013. “My goal is now to improve my performances, inspire my little girl, and to hopefully run the Boston Marathon.”
Tom Tomlinson originally began running as a way to stay in shape. His love of the sport grew when he met his wife and they trained for their first marathon together. Tom has run three additional marathons, and is looking forward to his second Boston Marathon this April with Team Eye and Ear. He appreciates the opportunity to run for Mass. Eye and Ear, and is inspired by the stories of his team members.
The owner of a fitness studio, Julie Valenti is the epitome of physical fitness. When not pursuing her passion for Pilates or running 35 miles a week, Julie tackles triathlons and trail biking. Julie has also run 20 half marathons, and eight marathons. Julie’s grandfather and one of her two sons have been Mass. Eye and Ear patients, which inspired her to run for last year’s squad. “Being a part of Team Eye and Ear made this my favorite Boston Marathon, yet,” says Julie, who will run her fifth Boston Marathon this year. “When I crossed the finish line last year, holding hands with another team member, my heart was filled with so much pride and joy.”
Peter Van Leuvan
People in Peter Van Leuvan’s family have lived with early onset hearing loss for several generations, and Peter’s hearing is weaker than it should be for a man of his age. In time, Peter will need hearing aids or other medical intervention in order to maintain his hearing. “I have seen firsthand the effects of hearing loss on people, ranging from a lack of confidence and avoidance of group interaction to personal safety issues,” says Peter. “I am over the moon to be running the 119th Boston Marathon for Team Eye and Ear in support of research and treatment of hearing loss.”
A Team Eye and Ear veteran, Erin Webb rejoins the team to run her second Boston Marathon. With a history of vision problems in her family, running to raise funds for Mass. Eye and Ear is personal for Erin. “I had a wonderful experience running for Team Eye and Ear in 2011, and I want to contribute to finding a cure for my aunt and uncle’s vision problems,” says Erin, a training professional for a local biotech company. “I want to use my health and talents for those who can’t run, like my aunt and uncle, and help patients.”
When Jim Windlinger finishes the Boston Marathon in April, he’ll be able to cross running a marathon or half-marathon in each state off of his “bucket list.” Jim selected Team Eye and Ear because he’s challenged by multiple sclerosis and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), both of which have threatened his eyesight. “AMD can be a slow-moving disease,” Jim explains. “So far my vision loss has been minimal.” He is determined to raise funds to help others. Jim is not alone in his quest. He is running with his friend Michael Stuart to support AMD research.