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My First and Last Step Will Always be for My Dad

Teammate Takeover
Chris Butts, Karen Feeney, and Lauren Pino

[L-R; Chris Butts, Karen Feeney, and Lauren Pino]. Tedy’s Team alumni enjoy a Patriots win at Gillette Stadium.

Tedy’s Team alumni, Karen Feeney, is taking over our blog this week to share her personal connection to stroke and why she’s so passionate about our mission.

I first learned about stroke when I was a child. My paternal grandmother had a stroke before I was born, but as I got older I started to question why she didn’t use her left arm or why it was always in the same place. Since I was young, I was just told, ‘grandma’s arm doesn’t work,’ but it wasn’t until I was older that I realized it was a deficit from her stroke.

Stroke came into our lives again in May of 2016 when my father had his first stroke. We were at a family birthday party and he fell over hitting his head on the marble floor, requiring him to have six staples in his head. Later that year in October, he suffered two more strokes.

With all three strokes, my family and I recognized how fortunate we were that after some physical therapy, my father had no side effects. I realized how different the outcome of his strokes could have been, and because of that I wanted to do something to help raise more awareness of stroke.

In 2017, I ran the Boston Marathon as part of a charity team. It was a wonderful experience that allowed me to live out my dream of running the marathon and support a cause that was important to me. While training, I found out about Tedy’s Team and their mission to fight stroke and I knew that I wanted to be a part of their team to help them educate others on the warning signs of stroke and support research and education to prevent stroke.

When it came time to apply for the 2018 Boston Marathon, I only applied to be on Tedy’s Team because I wanted to do this in honor of my father. I was so excited when I was accepted onto the team and quickly found that I was getting so much more than a marathon experience. I found the team that I was looking for.

I met a group of amazing people who were welcoming, supportive and encouraging. Everyone genuinely cares and shows their appreciation for each other. I was made to feel like part of the team from day one. Emails, Facebook groups, a meeting spot before long runs, were some things that helped foster the team feeling, and that was all before the Marathon.

When I started to share on social media that I was running for Tedy’s Team, I was moved by how many friends shared their experiences with stroke. That reconfirmed that I was running for the right team and would be making a difference.

After the 2018 Boston Marathon, I remained connected to the team because Tedy’s Team is more than a group of marathon runners. It is a group of kind and caring people, a family really, that is dedicated to making a difference and supporting stroke research. I volunteered at different events and ran the Falmouth Road Race with Tedy’s Team. My bond to the cause and the team members became stronger. I learned the stories of why people were on the team. Finding out that many of my team members were stroke survivors was inspiring and motivating.

When I questioned running the 2019 Marathon, it was my teammates that convinced me to apply for another year. And here I am… training for my 3rd Boston Marathon. My new motto for running is, ‘every step of the marathon has a new and important meaning, but my first and my last step will always be for my dad.’

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