There were plenty of noteworthy stories this week in the world of medicine, such as the development of a new drug that could treat peanut allergies, and a study that says red wine may protect your oral health. But one particular story stood out, highlighting the lengths to which many nurses go for the causes near and dear to them.
Nurse Colby George of Massachusetts isn’t a marathon runner. At least, not yet. This year, however, she plans to make the 26.2 mile journey at the annual Boston Marathon—not for the prestige, but for her patients.
In 2013, a six-year old boy named Joseph Middlemiss died unexpectedly from cardiomyopathy—a disease of the heart muscle. “Joey’s infectious laugh, and curly-lashed blue eyes were never happier than the day his baby brother was born. His special heart held a wisdom and empathy far beyond his 6 years”, reads the homepage of the Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation Inc. The non-profit foundation was created by Joey’s parents shortly after the young boy’s death, and raises funds to help with research and awareness of childhood heart issues.
Nurse George’s husband, Justin, was a first responder when Joey died, and ran the Boston Marathon last year for the foundation. But this year, Nurse George (herself a recipient of one of the Big Heart Foundation’s “Acts of Kindness”) couldn’t remain on the sidelines any longer.
“To run the marathon is just something that I’d like to accomplish because I didn’t think I’d ever be able to run a marathon,” George, 39, explains. “But to do it for their foundation — to raise awareness for their foundation — is really the main reason why I want to do it.”
And this year, it turns out, the decision to run is particularly timely. Five years after the death of their oldest son Joey, the Middlemiss family spent time back in the hospital as their four-year old son Jack underwent a heart transplant. Jack, also born with cardiomyopathy, made it through the surgery successfully, but the close call makes Nurse George’s decision to run seem all the more potent.
“Out of something awful, a beautiful friendship has evolved,” Joey’s mother, Kate Middlemiss, said Friday of the family’s bond with Nurse George and her husband. “It’s a connection that we will always have with them.”
According to the Pediatric Cardiomyopathy Registry, one in every 100,000 children in the U.S. under the age of 18 is diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. The majority of diagnosed children are under 12 months followed by children 12 to 18 years old. Pediatric cardiomyopathy is considered a rare disorder, and can be present at birth or have new onset at any age—with or without symptoms.
Colby begins her 26.2 mile run on Monday, April 16th (Patriot’s Day), and she hopes to raise at least $6,000 dollars this year for the Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation. You can follow her fundraising efforts (or make a donation) at this link.
No one wants to wind up in a hospital bed, but even through those sometimes tragic circumstances, bonds between nurses and patients so often transcend distance, disease, and all other obstacles. And in cases like Nurse George and the Middlemiss family, sometimes those connections can have a ripple effect that touches more lives than either thought possible.
Best of luck in the race, Colby! We’ll be cheering for you.
For more information on a nursing program in California, or starting your own career as a nurse or medical assistant, contact Unitek College today for class enrollment information, convenient scheduling, and to find a campus near you.