What inspired you to start participating in events such as Reach the Beach?
In college, I became a counselor to kids with HIV and AIDS. I lost someone in high school and never got the chance to tell him how much I cared for him and what an incredible person he was. I never got the chance to say good bye or treat him the way I wish I did. I worked with these kids because I knew most of them would die, and I would be able to say goodbye to them before they left this earth and to be able to openly tell them how wonderful and amazing they were. It changed my life- it was some of the happiest moments that I will ever have and also on the passing of 2 specific little boys- it was some of the most painful.
Ryan C. was an 11 year-old and I became a big sister to him. We even looked alike. There was a bond between us that I can't begin to explain. I fell in love with him, his sense of humor, his passion to play outside, his personality and his hugs. At the time, children with AIDS were infected by tainted blood given to them in hospitals through surgery or treatment for hemophilia. Overnight these beautiful kids became Lepers because society didn't understand the disease and thought hugging or getting close to someone with AIDS would instantly infect the person. Ryan and I played outside a lot. He loved baseball but when his little league team found out Ryan had AIDS, all the parents protested and had Ryan kicked off the team. When Ryan died at 14 years old, I swore I would honor him. I swore I would use my capable, healthy body for good and never take for granted my health and ability to move. I did the Boston and New York AIDS Ride that year. It was 300 miles on a bike for 2.5 days. It was emotionally and physically grueling and painful. Now, I run and ride and tri for a reason for all of those who can't, who wish they could and for those who will never get the chance.
Who has been your biggest influence throughout your training?
My team members! If it was not for the incredible group of dedicated athletes on this team, I would not be training the way I am. I love turning running into a "team sport." I also think of all the kids who can't run and the countless family and friends that donate and support me throughout all these years!
What other races have you participated in?
I have run the Boston Marathon 5 times, as well as the Chicago and Miami Marathon once. I competed in the Mount Snow Tough Mudder in May 2012, Ruckus in 2011 and 2012, Cranberry Olympic and Sprint Triathalons, and Run to Remember Half Marathon 2009-2012.
You also started a non-profit. Tell us about it.
I founded The Seat Swap in 2009. It is a unique, non-profit that allows children throughout New England who are emotionally, financially or physically unable to afford tickets on their own to attend Major League sporting events. Tickets are mainly donated by generous ticket holders, and the Seat Swap then covers all additional expenses for the family to fully enjoy the positive experience without worry or concern.