In Your Area
Heather and Marek, who have been matched for 2 years, share their thoughts about the Patient-Runner Connection program.
Marek, patient connection and Heather, runner.
Despite significant geographical distance, you have done a great job forming a friendship in the last year. How are you and Marek partnering together this year to help with fundraising efforts?
Heather: E-mail has made it really easy to stay in touch with Marek - thank you, Internet! In addition to giving me words of encouragement, Marek and his mom, Jill, have been really helpful in coming up with fundraising ideas. Our latest effort, which I've dubbed "10 (dollars) for 10 (years)," was Jill's idea. When Marek celebrated the fifth anniversary of his liver transplant, they asked friends and family to donate five dollars. Jill came to me with the idea for his 10th anniversary, and it seemed perfect.
Fundraising is not a mandatory part of the Patient-Runner Connection, yet you were eager to get involved and share Marek’s story to help with Heather’s fundraising this year. What does Heather’s training and fundraising efforts mean to your family in light of Marek’s 10 year transplant anniversary?
Jill (Marek’s mom): We could not think of a better way to honor Marek's 10 year transplant anniversary on February 18th than by supporting the American Liver Foundation. The icing on the cake is being able to do it in partnership with our amazing Boston Marathon runner, Heather. We can help her achieve her fundraising goal and honor Marek, it doesn't get better than that!
While your “10 for 10 campaign” will be sent out to help boost your fundraising efforts, what else do you hope those reading your and Marek’s story will take away from this campaign?
Heather: What Marek (and Hannah, another Patient Connection) have given me is a face to run for. Before I met them, I was running for an organization. Sure, it meant a lot that I was raising money, but that was it. I was just raising money. Having been in touch with my two Patient Connections over the past year has given my miles deeper meaning. I hope that those reading our story will not only be inclined to donate but that they will have a greater sense of pride in knowing where their dollars are going (and maybe they'll spread the word!). I also want people to learn how strong Marek is. He's been through so much but loves life and lives it to the fullest. I love hearing from him because his notes are genuine. He's such a fun kid and he inspires me every day, every mile and every hill and track workout!
Though you have never physically had the opportunity to meet Heather, you requested to be paired with her again for the 2014 marathon season. What have you and your family taken away from the program despite the distance between you?
Jill: My husband and I were recently talking about the match with Heather and Marek and commenting on how little they would ordinarily have in common and yet, because of our mutual goal of supporting the ALF, it has brought our families together in a united effort. Heather has so much energy and enthusiasm, we feel very privileged to be matched with her again this year. Heather has done a great job in finding ways to relate to Marek and he looks forward to hearing from her, as well as passing on his own encouragement. He is still young and a lot of the interaction does come from me, but it's something I hope that Marek will stay involved with for years to come. The older he gets, and the more understanding he has, the more fun it is for all of us. It is my goal to take Marek to the Boston Marathon in the coming years and cheer on our runner!
Read Marek's Full Story
Check out their "10 for 10" Campaign Poster
As of February 18th, Marek's 10 year transplant anniversary, Heather and Marek have raised over $1,200 (in less than 3 weeks) from this campaign! Congratulations team!