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Nick and Pearl

Nick and Pearl, who have been matched for 8 years, share their thoughts about the Patient-Runner Connection program.

Nick, runner, with his patient match, Pearl

You signed up for the Patient-Runner Connection eight years ago, not knowing who you'd be matched with. What have you taken away from your relationship with Pearl, your patient match, and her family?

Nick: I think Pearl is an amazing young lady (I met her when she was a little girl) who has such a great spirit and energy about her. No matter how difficult or trying things have been for her, she always stayed upbeat and positive. The same can be said for her family. I can't imagine the concern and worry a parent would have about knowing their child was ill. Pearl’s family took everything day by day and did the best they could under the circumstances. That is something that always amazed me. They also have been so supportive of the other families dealing with similar issues. To think of others while dealing with such an incredibly difficult situation with your own child is what makes them such great people.

Over the years Nick has become like family to you. What does his hundreds of practice miles, 8 marathons matched with Pearl and overall involvement in the Run for Research program mean to you and your family?

Karen (Pearl’s mom): Nick is family!! He's been to Pearl's First Communion. We've cheered when their boys were born. And we love his commitment to the cause. We enjoy coming to long runs and patient/runner events. We love reading about him and watching him when he makes the news. He always emphasizes the patients, and he loves to mention Pearl. We just want to always be there to cheer him on. I hope someday we can return the favor and give him the joy and encouragement he has given us. Pearl loves talking about "her runner". It always amazes me that he keeps doing this year after year, that it means so much to him. I think it’s a bit symbiotic, we are amazed at his dedication and he is amazed at the perseverance of the patients!

Last year, part way through your 21 mile long run, you were given the news that Pearl got "the call" that a liver was available for her. How did that impact your run and subsequent performance throughout the season and beyond?

Nick: Hearing the news about Pearl receiving her liver was so emotional. It was the ultimate winning lottery ticket. I have a nephew the same age as Pearl (they actually share the same birthday) and often when I look at him I think of her. I was so happy to hear Pearl received her liver because I knew this would be the beginning of a new chapter for her. This would give her the opportunity to go on and live a long and healthy life. Having Pearl in my life helps remind me how precious life is and why you need to make the most out of the one life you have.

Every year, without fail, we see the Racine family out at the Liver Cheering Section on Marathon Monday with t-shirts and posters rooting Nick on. What will this years' experience mean to your family a little over a year post transplant?

Karen: This has been a very emotional year, so I'm sure there will be smiles and tears (of joy!) this year. We are so blessed with how well Pearl has done. It is going to be an amazing day to get out there after most of us had to stay back at the hospital with Pearl last year. I know we are all looking forward to it! To stand out there and watch these people running, especially all the charity runners, just struggling, and to clap and cheer and see them just get a boost out of it is so much fun! This has been, and always will be, a special family day for us. I can't wait to get out there again!

Page updated: February 25th, 2014