Running the Boston Marathon is a tradition for many, but this year will be the first race for one runner from Somerville who is determined to run in honor of her boyfriend and the hospital that helped him heal.
Kaitlyn Kiely is running to raise money for Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown. She is one of 80 runners on the team and has seen the benefits of Spaulding firsthand.
The 29-year-old still remembers racing to the basketball court last year where her boyfriend, Matt Wetherbee fell while playing with friends. Wetherbee tripped and ended up with a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the shoulders down.
"He was lying on the ground and I knew instantly that he was paralyzed," Kiely said. "He was going to propose to me the week of his accident."
After spending time in the ICU at Massachusetts General Hospital, Wetherbee then spent a few months at Spaulding. Kiely was so moved by his progress at the facility, she decided she wanted to do something too.
"I wanted to show him that it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon," Kiely said. "And it really is."
Kiely set a goal of fundraising $6,000 for Spaulding. She has since surpassed that goal, raising more than $10,000.
"It’s amazing thinking about how many people and patients it’s really going to help here," Alyson Jodoin, a physical therapist at Spaulding said. Jodoin is helping Kiely train for the Boston Marathon.
Wetherbee will be at the finish line to watch his girlfriend cross it, knowing his road to recovery will continue long after that. He says he is grateful not just for her, but for the fact that she is running 26.2 miles to show she’s not going anywhere.
"She’s reassured me from the beginning that she wasn’t going anywhere and that’s pretty amazing if you ask me," Wetherbee said.
The Boston Marathon team running for Spaulding hopes to raise $600,000 this year. To donate and learn more about Kiely’s story, you can visit her fundraising website here: https://www.crowdrise.com/spauldingrehabboston17/fundraiser/kaitlynkiely