2016 Team Eye and Ear Members
We are excited to introduce the members of Team Eye and Ear, the Mass. Eye and Ear marathon team that will participate in the 2016 Boston Marathon on April 18.
Team Eye and Ear members span a wide range of athletic abilities (novice to experienced marathoners) and walks of life. They are generous and dedicated individuals who are athletes, fundraisers and ambassadors for Mass. Eye and Ear.
Their hard work, dedication and pure passion brings new hope and a healthier future to people everywhere who suffer from debilitating conditions affecting sight, hearing, voice, balance, taste and smell, as well as cancers of the eye, head and neck.
For Dr. Stephen Benson, a psychologist by trade, the secret to a successful marathon run is truly mind over matter. The matter, in this case, was his calf, which he tore at mile 5 of the Dallas Marathon, his first marathon. He somehow toughed it out and finished the race. “Since then, I figure that I can do just about anything that I set my mind to,” says Dr. Benson, a Renaissance man. In addition to raising fund this year to support patient care and research at Mass. Eye and Ear, Dr. Benson has also run the New York City Marathon to support the Alzheimer’s Association.
A young Brit, William Bowry studied at the universities of York and London before embarking on a career as director of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. After a few years in the theater, William joined the teaching staff of the Royal Hospital School in Suffolk, and coached the cricket team. Deciding that he needed to “spread the gospel of cricket in America,” he joined the British International School of Boston in 2012, and was present at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon. “In the aftermath of what I witnessed that day,” says William, “I swore to myself that I would, one day, run the Boston Marathon, fundraising for a charity that was instrumental in helping those affected on that day. So I feel incredibly privileged to be running for Mass. Eye and Ear.”
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. After taking up running as a means to lose weight and stay in shape, Michael ran his first Boston Marathon for Team Eye and Ear last year, and looks forward to a return engagement on April 18.
Jenaro Cardona-Fox is excited to join Team Eye and Ear for his fourth 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 fourth 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.”
About 16 years ago, Taylor Coon’s father was diagnosed with a serious illness. After two years under the watchful eye of Dr. Evangelos Gragoudas, M.D., her dad has been healthy ever since. “Mass. Eye and Ear saved my dad’s life and has kept him healthy for 15 years,” says Taylor, who is running her second Boston Marathon for Team Eye and Ear. “I can’t think of a better reason to run.” Taylor was born with club foot, and although it was corrected before she turned one, she admits that “my feet aren’t made for running.” But that hasn’t stopped Taylor, who has run three half-marathons and the Boston Marathon once.
As a home-care nurse, Teresa Costa first experienced Mass. Eye and Ear while taking care of one of Dr. Christopher Hartnick’s pediatric patients. Accompanying the patient and mother on trips to Mass. Eye and Ear, “I’ve seen the amazing care that Dr. Hartnick and his team deliver, and it means the world to me to support his work so that others can benefit as well,” says Teresa. An avid fitness enthusiast who enjoys Pilates, yoga and strength and interval training, Teresa will run to support Dr. Hartnick’s pediatric airway research.
A classmate of Mass. Eye and Ear pediatric nurse Ashley Hickey, Colby Davenport has worked in the medical field for nearly a decade. “I love touching patients’ lives every day, and I know that Ashley shares my passion for helping others,” says Colby. “I enjoy hearing Ashley talk about the great care that Mass. Eye and Ear’s doctors and nurses provide for children, and I’m honored to help support those efforts by running for Team Eye and Ear this year.” A dedicated runner, Colby also supports the “Run to Home Base,” an annual event that funds clinical care for wounded military veterans.
Deepjyoti “Deep” Deb
After running the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) 10-kilometer race last in a steady rain last June, Deep Deb was inspired to tackle the Boston Marathon. And after mulling over what organization to run for, he applied to Team Eye and Ear due to the care that friends and family have received at Mass. Eye and Ear over the years. One friend, in particular, saw her vision improve after coming to Mass. Eye and Ear. “I have the utmost gratitude for the care that she received here,” says Deep, a Harvard School of Public Health research assistant. “Her doctors and nurses helped to return the view of the world painlessly back to her eyes, and it returned the beautiful view of her eyes back to mine.”
For most, running the Boston Marathon is a once-in-a-lifetime feat. So when Sheila Devine ran the 2013 Boston Marathon to support the pediatric airway research of Dr. Christopher Hartnick, she thought that was it. Little did she know that she’d be back to take another crack at the Boston Marathon in 2016. After a two-year hiatus, Sheila is back on Team Eye and Ear and looks at the 26.2-mile run as a “modest way to thank Dr. Hartnick for the wonderful care that he provided for my daughter, Maeve.”
South Boston, Mass.
A young woman with a bright future in 2013, Kerryn Doherty was shocked when she lost almost all vision in her right eye for about a year. “At one memorable appointment, I was told my vision could slowly return, but may never fully recover, which left me pretty devastated and scared,” admits Kerryn, who still has a very bright future. Although she admits that her tennis game is still terrible, she has recovered about 85 percent of the vision she had lost. “I feel extremely fortunate to have had access to my amazing neuro-ophthalmologist, and I’m very thankful to run to support research at Mass. Eye and Ear.”
A surgical technologist at Coastal Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery in Portsmouth, N.H., Emily Fellers takes an annual trip to Honduras to serve those in need. Two years ago, Emily met a young mother and her 11-year-old daughter, who was diagnosed with a serious eye disease that required removal of the eye. Due to where the patient’s family lived in rural Honduras – and communications issues – it wasn’t always easy, but after 11 months of hard work Emily arranged to have the young lady’s eye removed and a prosthesis inserted in its place. Emily is running to support Mass. Eye and Ear’s Office of Global Surgery and Health.
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. "We're so fortunate to be connected to such an outstanding institution that provides excellent, personalized care to every patient," says Lisa. "We’re so lucky to have Mass. Eye and Ear within driving distance to our home.”
As the owner of the Parkway Restaurant in Stamford, Conn., Lushe Gjuraj understands the importance of hard work and the value of endurance, all traits that will serve her well as she tackles the Boston Marathon with Team Eye and Ear. She’s an experienced marathoner, with four races under her belt, but her toughest – and most memorable – took place in the City of Light, Paris. “It was especially tough because of the terrain I was running on, but I pushed through and fought for that time that I trained so hard to get.”
As a New York City-based political consultant and former Junior Olympics distance runner, Tucker Green could certainly be described as competitive. Although he’s run a couple marathons, he had yet to run the Boston Marathon, widely regarded as one of the world’s toughest distance races. So when his uncle, who has worked with Mass. Eye and Ear over the years, mentioned the possibility of running for Team Eye and Ear, it was a perfect match. “I have a lot of family in Boston, so I hope to make them proud with a sub- four-hour run,” says Tucker.
Christopher Hartnick, M.D. (Employee)
Dr. Christopher Hartnick, Division Director of Pediatric Otolaryngology at Mass. Eye and Ear, is back for his fourth marathon with Team Eye and Ear. Joined by his wife, college roommate, colleagues and friends, Dr. Hartnick will run to raise funds for Mass. Eye and Ear’s pediatric laryngology lab, which translates scientific research into practical ways of helping children breathe and speak without a tracheotomy. Dr. Hartnick is also raising funds to support Operation Airway, an ongoing pediatric airway surgery mission to Ecuador.
Support Dr. Hartnick.
Liz Hartnick hopes that the third time is the charm in 2016. Her first two attempts at running the Boston Marathon ended short of the finish line. The devastating terrorist bombing of 2013 curtailed her first attempt, and then a stress fracture thwarted her 2014 effort. Having taken a year off to rehabilitate and strengthen her leg, Liz is “looking forward to seeing the race through to the finish line.” She’ll run this year to support the pediatric airway work of her husband, Dr. Chris Hartnick. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the members of Team Eye and Ear this year, and I’m so proud to support Chris’ care of children in the U.S. and in Latin America," says Liz.
Paul Herrick’s outgoing, bright nephew, Eli, is being treated at Mass. Eye and Ear for Stargardt's Disease, a rare eye condition that will eventually cost him his vision if no cure is found. “Eli continues to inspire us as he lives his life with no boundaries,” says Paul, a North Shore realtor. “I love how Eli is finding his own way, learning how he fits into the world. His family’s belief system, and the remarkable support that Eli has received from Mass. Eye and Ear, has inspired me to run.” Paul’s efforts will support the work of Dr. Eric Pierce and Mass. Eye and Ear’s Ocular Genomics Institute.
Jamie Holland, D.M.D.
A native son of Southern New Hampshire, Dr. Jamie Holland took a rather circuitous route to practicing orthodontics in his home state. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from the Ohio State University, completing dental school at Washington University in St. Louis, and picking up a graduate degree in Orthodontics from Tufts University, Dr. Holland trained locally before spending a couple years practicing orthodontics in Saudi Arabia. Dr. Holland, who served five years in the U.S. Army Reserves as a captain in the Dental Corps, is running for Mass. Eye and Ear due to the terrific treatment that his son received as a young boy at Mass. Eye and Ear.
Although Emily Hughes originally enrolled at Northeastern University to study speech therapy, working as a student nursing assistant at Mass. Eye and Ear back in 2010 changed the course of her life. “The nurses and patients I met in my first month at Mass. Eye and Ear impacted me so greatly that I decided to pursue a nursing career,” says Emily, who’s now a pediatric nurse at Mass. Eye and Ear. “Witnessing the strength of children enduring life-changing surgery every day has had a remarkable effect on me, and I’m proud to help raise funds for Dr. Hartnick’s amazing pediatric airway research and clinical care.”
Although Laura Humen’s mother was petrified of surgery, and postponed it as long as possible, she reluctantly came to Mass. Eye and Ear for a procedure. “Thankfully, Mass. Eye and Ear’s staff – from the front office people to the doctors and nurses – did a great job in putting my mother’s mind at ease,” says Laura, a physician assistant whose high school classmate, Brittany Williams, is a Mass. Eye and Ear nurse. “My mom’s surgery went incredibly well, and she’s now back at full health. So I owe Mass. Eye and Ear an enormous ‘thank you!’”
Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
As a business owner, it’s tough to take a sick day. So when George Ide experienced a persistent case of vertigo last year, it posed a serious problem for the owner of Burch Bottle & Packaging. He first visited local hospitals, but received different diagnoses. George’s gut instinct spurred him to visit Mass. Eye and Ear’s Dr. Adrian Priesol, who specializes in vestibular disorders. “I found out that I had nerve damage in one ear, and was diagnosed with vestibular neuritis in 20 minutes,” recalls George. “By running for Mass. Eye and Ear, I hope to raise money for – and awareness of – vestibular disorders.”
As a young dancer in Western Pennsylvania, Northeastern University pre-med student Alexa Kacin experienced the emotional difficulty of dealing with medical setbacks when repeated foot injuries ended her dancing career. Now a nursing assistant at Mass. Eye and Ear, Alexa sees reflections of her younger self in the many pediatric patients she helps treat every day. Encouraged by nurse Kevin Callans, Alexa joined Team Eye and Ear to raise money to support care for her favorite patient. “Having witnessed the transformation of young patients has deeply touched me,” says Alexa. “Working to raise money for a pediatric patients will be an uplifting and rewarding experience.”
As a director at BMO Capital Markets in New York City, Marc Kitay finds that running is a great way to blow off steam and deal with the pressure of a financial job in Times Square. As a runner, Marc averages 25 miles a week and has completed 20 marathons, 13 half-marathons and one ironman competition. He’ll be running alongside Lushe Gjuraj, owner of the Parkway Diner in Stamford, Conn., as well as several other restaurants.
Knapp joins Team Eye and Ear for his sixth Boston Marathon. As a parent
of a Mass. Eye and Ear patient, Rob understands the importance of
patient care. Rob 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.
In her own words, Theresa Latona was “not the most fit or athletic person” in high school. In an effort to improve her health, Theresa took up running and the rest – as is commonly said – is history. Now a personal trainer in Boston, Theresa teaches classes in cycling, zumba and TRX training. Although a healthy young runner, Theresa’s family has long benefitted from the care of Mass. Eye and Ear. “I can't imagine giving anything bigger and more meaningful than a chance at a healthy life, which Mass. Eye and Ear has provided my family,” says Theresa. “So I’m running to support an organization that is near and dear to my family’s heart.”
As the captain of the Emerson College cross-country team, Matthew Lavallee knows how to run, but even a young, veteran runner like Matthew described running last year’s Boston Marathon as “toughest” race he’s ever run. “Running the Boston Marathon last April was one of the greatest moments of my life,” says Matthew. “The only thing that could top 2015 would be to do it again – only this time for a cause as worthy as Mass. Eye and Ear.
Not long after she gave birth to her daughter, Micayla Lenane began her career as a pediatric nurse at Mass. Eye and Ear. Her infant daughter – who has a rare condition – is also a patient. “Thanks to the care that my daughter received at Mass. Eye and Ear, she’s stable and thriving,” says Micayla, a former soccer player in high school and college who is no stranger to long runs. “Now my husband and I have a little time to focus on being healthy ourselves, so I’m looking forward to running the marathon to give our patients, including my daughter, hope for a healthier future.”
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. 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 2016 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.”
As the president and CEO of MacNair Travel Management – a company he founded with his wife, Ellen, in 1989 – Michael MacNair understands the singular focus that’s required to build a thriving business. Not surprisingly, the Alexandria, Va., resident has applied that laser-like intensity to all areas of his life, including physical fitness and his health. Prior to coming to Mass. Eye and Ear for treatment, Michael had been blinded in his left eye due to a tumor. But thanks to the expert care of Dr. Evangelos Gragoudas, the tumor has shrunk by 80 percent and Michael is once again living life to its fullest. Since the treatment, he’s completed his fifth ironman competition and has climbed Mount Rainier, Mount Kilimanjaro and has made it to the Mt. Everest Base Camp.
A Team Eye and Ear veteran, Will McNamara returns this April for his eighth Boston Marathon. He suffered a mountain biking accident near Vail, Colo., nine years ago. During surgery, he had a stroke to the optic nerve in both eyes, leaving him legally blind. Will and his new wife, Alexis, run this year with the hope that one day the research they are supporting will help restore his vision and 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!”
Alexis Roche McNamara
Prior to her first Boston Marathon with Team Eye and Ear in 2014, Alexis Roche had run the Boston Marathon 11 times. After taking a year off to plan her wedding to Team Eye and Ear veteran Will McNamara, Alexis Roche McNamara will run alongside Will again in 2016. “Running with Team Eye and Ear in 2014, after the 2013 bombings, was a very special experience,” says Alexis. “And running as a married couple this year will make for another special day for Will and I. Running the marathon is the perfect way to build awareness of the great work being done at Mass. Eye and Ear, which gives us great hope for Will’s future.”
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 alongside my mom, Michelle, for Mass. Eye and Ear again this year.”
A veteran of both the Chicago and Boston marathons, Michelle Nickerson is teaming up with her daughter, Kelsey, again this year to raise funds for Mass. Eye and Ear. When Michelle’s husband, Larry, was diagnosed with cancer a few days after the 2014 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."
New York, N.Y.
Diagnosed at the age of 12 with retinis pigmentosa (RP), Griffin Pinkow has been slowly, but surely, losing his vision for almost three decades now. But the recent Susquehanna University graduate hasn’t allowed this challenge to define him. He’s a master fundraiser, collecting more than $40,000 for the Foundation for Fighting Blindness in recent years, and he played on his college rugby team until his vision loss became an issue. Before graduating last spring, Griffin was also very active with a campus group that develops economic-based community service projects and presents their work at annual regional and national competitions. He’ll be running to support the research of Dr. Eric Pierce.
A two-time member of Team Eye and Ear in 2008 and ’09, Alicia Priselac is back for a third crack at the Boston Marathon. “Other than giving birth to my children, running for Team Eye and Ear were among the most amazing experiences of my life,” says Alicia, a Mass. Eye and Ear patient who has long suffered from severe tinnitus (ringing in the ears). “I’ve suffered significant hearing loss as a result of my tinnitus, so everyday interactions can be challenging at times. I’m learning to become an advocate for myself thanks to Mass. Eye and Ear, which is truly making a difference in so many people’s lives.”
As a medical student at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Heather Reiley understands the importance of supporting medical research. “I’m very aware of the power of research, and the promise of a better life through restored vision,” says Heather, whose great grandparents, DeWalt and Marie Ankeny, and grandfather, Pete, had sight-saving surgeries performed at Mass. Eye and Ear/Schepens Eye Research Institute. Her mother, Sally, is a three-time member of Team Eye and Ear, and has been among the team’s top performers the past two years. “I’m very excited by the ground-breaking genomics and gene-therapy work being done at Mass. Eye and Ear, and hopeful that these advances will be routine treatments once I become a doctor.”
When Julia and Heather Reiley joined their mother, Sally, a Mass. Eye and Ear trustee, at the Team Eye and Ear dinner last spring, Julia was truly touched by the patient stories she heard. Inspired, the siblings decided to run for Team Eye and Ear alongside their mom this year. This family affair with Mass. Eye and Ear/Schepens Eye Research Institute dates back four generations, when Julia’s great grandparents, DeWalt and Marie Ankeny, were successfully treated by Charles L. Schepens, M.D., for detached retinas. “This year is my first opportunity to truly dedicate my body to the training and my heart to the cause,” says Julia, who has been playing lacrosse for Dartmouth College.
Sally Ankeny Reiley (Employee)
A long-time trustee, Sally Ankeny Reiley recently joined the Mass. Eye and Ear staff as Assistant Director of Development, Major Gifts. In addition, several 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 2016 Boston Marathon will be Sally’s third marathon with Team Eye and Ear, and her first with daughters Heather and Julia. Not only has she been among Team Eye and Ear's top fundraisers, but she's also among our fastest runners. Sally has set the bar high, but we can’t wait to see what she’ll do this year.
Some people celebrate anniversaries with a nice dinner or drinks, but Stephanie Ripley is celebrating her 10th anniversary as a Bostonian by running the Boston Marathon for Team Eye and Ear. A native of Rochester, N.Y., Stephanie has long been a fan of our favorite race. “Every Marathon Monday, I've cheered on the runners, and every year I tear up thinking about all their hard work,” says Stephanie, who has undergone successful surgery at Mass. Eye and Ear. “So I've decided that this year I’ll be the one out there running, putting in the hours and – more importantly – raising money for medical research at Mass. Eye and Ear.”
Kerry Shanley, P.A. (Employee)
When Mass. Eye and Ear Physician Assistant Kerry Shanley encouraged her 24-year-old sister, Molly, to come in for a quick skin check, it was a prescient suggestion. Dr. Tot Tan discovered a tiny speck on Molly’s skin that tested positive for early stage melanoma. “I credit Dr. Tan with saving my sister’s life,” says Kerry, a veteran marathoner. “Seeing how Molly got through such a shocking diagnosis of melanoma has made her my biggest inspiration and role model. To give back and raise awareness about the incredible work done at Mass. Eye and Ear, Molly and I are very excited to run for Team Eye and Ear this year.”
A competitive runner who was “sunscreen-obsessed,” young Molly Shanley would never have visited a dermatologist for a skin check on her own. But her older sister, Kerry, a physician assistant at Mass. Eye and Ear, insisted she visit Dr. Tot Tan . . . just in case. “I didn’t think that 24 year olds needed to get skin checks,” admits Molly. “But Dr. Tan detected a tiny speck that turned out to be early stage melanoma. Thank goodness that Kerry pushed me to go see Dr. Tan.” To get back into running shape, Molly invited Kerry to run the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach last March. The pair finished in less than 3.5 hours, which qualified them for the Boston Marathon, which the sisters will run for Team Eye and Ear this year.
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 16th Boston Marathon and her sixth 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.
When Matt Sherry and his wife welcomed their first child into the world last February, the young boy was born with a cyst on his tongue that obstructed his airway. Dr. Chris Hartnick inserted a trach that enabled him to breathe for a few months until the cyst was successfully removed. “My wife and I foten say how lucky we are to have an institution like Mass. Eye and Ear in our backyard,” says Matt. “We’ve often asked how we can give back for all the great care that we received from Dr. Hartnick and our nurses, and this is just a small first step of thanks.”
Before joining the hospital as Medical Director of Otolaryngology at Mass. Eye and Ear, Longwood, last year, Dr. Noah Siegel worked in private practice for 15 years after completing his residency at Mass. Eye and Ear in 2000. As the first otolaryngologist in Boston to obtain a Sleep Medicine subspecialty Board Certification, Dr. Siegel is passionate about sleep disorders and finding ways to help people get a good night’s sleep – one key to good health. Dr. Siegel will be running to raise funds for Mass Eye and Ear's Sleep Medicine Research Fund, which promotes research, education and training in sleep conditions.
When she would awake every day with swollen eyes, Human Resources professional Kadesh Simms began to worry that it might be more than just an allergy. Worried that it might be an early sign of glaucoma, an eye disease that afflicts her family, Kadesh came to Mass. Eye and Ear. It turned out to be a simple case of conjunctivitis, and she got a clean bill of eye health. But because of the scare, she’s decided to raise money to help Mass. Eye and Ear conduct glaucoma research.
San Diego, Calif.
Although a longtime teacher in sunny San Diego, veteran runner Amy Spelta is a native Bostonian, and Mass. Eye and Ear has played a significant role in her family’s genetic fight against glaucoma. After running for Team Eye and Ear last year, Amy is back to run her “dream race” for the second straight year. “Running the Boston Marathon was always a dream of mine,” admits Amy “And being a part of Team Eye and Ear last year really sweetened the experience for me. It’s a great feeling knowing that you’re running to support innovative research that gives hope to glaucoma sufferers around the world.”
As a veteran airline industry employee, Bill Stiner understands the concept of pressure. But nothing prepared him for the stress that he and his wife experienced when one of his prematurely born twins spent nearly a half year at Mass. Eye and Ear. Now that both children are thriving, Bill figures the best way to give back to Mass. Eye and Ear is to run to support Dr. Christopher Hartnick’s pediatric airway research and clinical care. An active man who loves to run and practice the martial arts, Bill is also a member of Mass. Eye and Ear’s Patient and Family Advisory Council.
A young man on the move, Alek Sudan is a founding member of the Give.Serve.Care Committee, which is part of the MetroWest Leadership Academy. Before becoming an engineer, Alek taught in the Framingham School System and founded the tech program for a local middle school. Alek has also co-founded YouthTrade, a non-profit that supports youth entrepreneurs. All this before the age of 30. This year, Alek plans to use his considerable skills to raise funds to support the pediatric work of Dr. Chris Hartnick. “Helping children who have severe airway problems by performing tracheostomies is a remarkable calling,” says Alek. “And I’m committed to supporting and raising awareness of Dr. Hartnick’s great work.”
Peter Van Leuvan
Members of 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 120th Boston Marathon for Team Eye and Ear in support of research and treatment of hearing loss.”
As a flight attendant, Jackie Venneri’s favorite way to explore a new city is by taking to the streets on foot. As she likes to say,” the best recipe for jet lag is to take to a foreign city in running shoes.” As her enjoyment of running grew into a passion, she began to run marathons last year, and qualified for Boston by completing the Erie (Penn.) Marathon. Engaged to Mass. Eye and Ear Fellow Nate Jowett, she is a full-time Boston resident and was inspired to run for Team Eye and Ear after attending the Sense-Ation! Gala last October.
Carissa Wentland, M.D.
A self-described “small-town girl” from Minnesota who graduated from Michigan State University Medical School, Dr. Carissa Wentland has agreed to tackle one of the world’s biggest marathons to support the work of Dr. Christopher Hartnick. “I love running to stay healthy and to find peace after long, sometimes stressful, days at work,” says Dr. Wentland, a pediatric otolaryngology fellow at Mass. Eye and Ear. “I’m very excited to run the Boston Marathon in support of Dr. Hartnick’s pediatric airway research to help children breathe better.”
Phoebe Yager, M.D.
As a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) employee, Dr. Phoebe Yager has witnessed firsthand the close collaboration between her employer and Mass. Eye and Ear, which provides otolaryngology and ophthalmology services for MGH. Working with pediatric patients, she’s forged a close working relationship with Dr. Chris Hartnick’s Mass. Eye and Ear team, and is running for Team Eye and Ear to support pediatric airway research and clinical care at Mass. Eye and Ear. “When I ran my first Boston Marathon, I had no idea what I was getting into and it was quite the miserable experience,” says a laughing Phoebe, who has run Boston seven times and has completed 10 marathons overall. “But I caught the marathon bug and can’t seem to shake it.”
As a nursing assistant on the Pediatric Surgery Floor, Northeastern University senior Aaron Yagoda is learning about health care from the front line. Whether taking pre- and post-operative vital signs or removing IVs, Aaron is getting the most out of his Mass. Eye and Ear experience. “The pediatric staff I work with is very inspiring, and the nurses have taught me so much about the importance of treating patients with kindness and care,” says Aaron, who is scheduled to graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Science and a Master’s Degree in Public Health by 2017. He also hopes to become a physician assistant in the future. “I have made lifelong connection with my co-workers at Mass. Eye and Ear, and my experience here has helped me to develop professionally and prepare for a career as a clinician.”
South Boston, Mass.
When most people have surgery at a hospital, they thank the doctors and the care team and move on with their lives. It’s rare that a patient, let alone those close to a patient, commit to running 26.2 miles for the hospital as a “thank you” gift. But that’s exactly what Jake Zorski has committed to doing. When the mother of his girlfriend – fellow Team Eye and Ear runner Laura Humen – had a successful surgery at Mass. Eye and Ear last summer, Jake joined Laura in deciding to run for Team Eye and Ear. “I’ve been very touched by what Mass. Eye and Ear did to help Laura’s mother,” says Jake, “and by what the hospital has done to help countless others see and hear again.”