Team Distance for Debbie is running the Boston Run to Remember on May 27, in memory of my sister, and Zach’s aunt, Debbie, who lived her life with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. She passed away a little over two years ago, at the age of 58, due to complications from the debilitating disease.
At the age of four, Debbie was diagnosed with arthritis. When first diagnosed she was confined to a wheelchair for a short time. But with her can-do attitude, even at the age of four, she got on her feet again and never stopped. Throughout her childhood, she remained as active as she could and found her niche in being the “smart kid” of our family. As the youngest, I could never live up to her many accomplishments. Not only did she graduate high school and college with straight A’s, but she also went on to earn her doctorate in psychology. As Dr. Debbie, she had a distinguished 30-year career with the federal government. First, with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), then as one of the original leaders of the TSA (Transportation Safety Administration) responsible for hiring all the executives who managed the TSA at its start. She also held a number of other prominent positions during her years of service.
Her entire life I never thought of my sister as having limitations. Sure she sometimes had a difficult time walking. Sure I wasn’t allowed to wrestle her when I was a kid (which I always thought was unfair!). Sure it was sometimes difficult for her to put on her coat, pull up her socks, or get in and out of a car. But she always found a way to do those things without asking for help. She was the most determined and independent person I have ever known. With a contagiously positive spirit, she was an inspiration to all of us who knew her.
Training for this half marathon will be a challenging experience for Zach and I (but honestly probably more challenging for me!) but nothing compared to the many challenges that Debbie faced in her lifetime. Her spirit will be carrying us through the streets of Boston and across the finish line at the end of the 13.1 miles. We are so proud to run in Debbie’s memory and to raise money to help children who are a diagnosed with this debilitating disease.