June 1 2015
Mary Barnett ran four races in one week following a mortar blast at her camp in Iraq.
I moved to New York City after I graduated college. Being away from my family was difficult—especially when my mom went into heart surgery and suffered two strokes in the hospital. It was hard for me to process the experience and I often found myself in tears.
During that time, Tedy Bruschi, the Patriots linebacker, was returning to play after recovering from a stroke. My family rallied around his story and became hopeful of my mother’s outcome.
But then Mom had a third stroke. I began searching for answers. The New York City Marathon was happening, and I started thinking that I could show her how committed I was to her recovery by doing something challenging myself. I signed up for the Boston Marathon in 2008 as part of Tedy’s Team, benefiting the American Stroke Association. I made a deal with my mom that over the next four months, we would train as hard as we could. Me, for the marathon. Her, for her recovery.
Marathon training was hard, but I got through it. During that time, my mom was able to say my name again for the first time since her last stroke. On race day, I turned the final corner, and there she was, waiting at the finish line. I have continued to run marathons for charity, and my mom has continued to progress with every passing month. I know she’s proud of me but I’m even more proud of her.
MY BEST ADVICE: RUN FOR A REASON
Fundraising and running for a charity can be a lot of work, but having a passion for a cause you love is extremely rewarding and will help you push through, even on the bitterly cold winter days.