As many of you already know each and every January, I find myself struggling through 13.1 miles in the Lifetime Miami Marathon. But really how do I find myself here each and every year is where the story should start. In 2014 a young determined girl changed my mind, about expectations and what determination can accomplish.
Peri Finkelstein was my first patient out of physical therapy school who was diagnosed with a rare form of congenital Muscular Dystrophy that subsequently affects in her muscles and nerves creating weakness and fatigue. As Peri and her family accepted me into their home they spoke of how each January they went to Miami to complete the half marathon in order to fund raise for a group called Chai Lifeline. This organization provides emotional, social, and financial assistance to more than 5,900 children and their families, not to mention funds Camp Simcha a summer camp for these warriors. With excitement I found myself in Miami in January 2015, as Peri got out of the stroller and we walked across the finish line. From here I knew I would be back. Each year I watch in awe as Peri chooses her goal for race day and diligently trains in order to succeed, between a vigorous college schedule, internships and everyday life routines. As a child who was told, “she will never walk” she has stepped out of line and never limited what she was capable of. As of 2020 she has walked in her gait trainer for 5 consecutive half marathons completing well over 6 miles (not to mention the countless miles training!). She’s walked miles in the rain, humidity, with injuries and even over a carpet (harder than you think) to reach her goal and continue to be a visionary and inspiration to the community. As she has become older, I have been able to watch her become a role model for other children with physical limitations and they have been inspired to be like Peri. Not to mention I have gained an amazing lifelong friend.
We can all agree that 2020’s vision for all of us has been difficult, but for the medically fragile children, it has been even more isolating. I currently have patients attending Camp Simcha without borders this summer and the joy they have had is infectious. Seeing them have a moment of laughter and fun during a trying and emotional exhausting year has made me more determined to complete Lucky number 7! I need your help to raise as much money as possible for these kids. So please, help me continue my “well maybe I’ll do one more” and make number 7 the most memorable marathon yet!