A Rebel With a Cause My 16 Year Old Liver Buddy’s Quest to Educate

I am running the 2011 Boston Marathon to raise money for the American Liver Foundation's Run for Research, and will post frequently about my training here, in these final weeks leading up to the race.

In my last blog post, I introduced you to Tom Williams, the remarkable 16 year-old who is my “Liver Buddy” - a liver patient on whom I'm especially focusing my Boston Marathon run for the American Liver Foundation's Run for Research.

Tom's story with liver disease began with his diagnosis of Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, but has only grown over the years since then. In the previous post, I included a video shot with Tom while he was waiting for a liver. Soon after, he got the word that a transplant would be scheduled, and a little under a year ago, Tom received his new liver. What many people don't realize, is that the story isn't over when the transplant operation is complete: fears of organ rejection linger, anti-rejection medication is expensive and often required for the rest of the patient's life, and many complications can arise. I'd run into Tom again after his transplant, at the Liver Life Walk in Boston, and not only were his spirits high but his health also was much better:

While he was feeling well in that video interview, my Liver Buddy's struggles aren't over. Tom is still working through some issues of recurring nausea that can knock him out of school every two to three weeks, and is evidence of the battle liver patients fight even after a transplant. Tom, however, is facing this fight head-on, and has taken on the task of educating his peers on liver disease and the benefits of the American Liver Foundation. In fact, Tom's goal is to get his whole school to join us in the Liver Life Walk this upcoming year – needless to say, this is a remarkable young man with a passion to make this world better.

When faced with life-changing and life-threatening illness, it takes a remarkable person and a resilient spirit to look beyond the pain and see the potential for joy and betterment, and Tom is an example of such indefatigability. Regardless of the pain and struggle Tom went through in order to get where he is today, my Liver Buddy is determined to find the energy and motivation to use his illness as an opportunity to make this world a better place – to use his optimism and positivity as a beacon for those who need it, to employ his youthful energy to raise money and support for the American Liver Foundation, and to utilize his natural gift for genuine and honest conversation to persuade his peers to join him in the path to education and enlightenment about liver disease.

Not all of us have the same strength as Tom, but we all can join in the effort. Please join our team as we work to raise money for the American Liver Foundation Run for Research and donate today. No amount is too small – quite literally every dollar will only add to the determination of courageous individuals like Tom. Click here to donate.

To read more about Tom from a recent Lowell Sun article, click here.

Previous Marathon Posts from Matt:

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