Sarah Taft decided to run the 126th Boston Marathon on Spaulding’s Race for Rehab team for one main reason: to honor her mother, Terry. After contracting a viral brain infection in the fall of 2019, Terry spent six weeks inpatient at Spaulding Boston. The virus had significantly impaired her motor function, memory and comprehension; however, members of her Spaulding care team were determined to find ways to bring Terry back.
While Sarah was never a runner before this year, her mother completed three Boston Marathons before having four kids. Early in Terry’s time at Spaulding, she was struggling to engage with her care team and become active again. Sarah remembers one day when Terry’s physical therapist, Gauge, persisted in chatting with an unresponsive Terry. Gauge commented on Terry’s sneakers, a blue pair of Brooks that she had been wearing for years, and how he heard they were a great brand to run in.
All of a sudden, Terry perked up and said, “Well, I ran three marathons, did you know that?” Gauge was then able to use this interest to keep motivating Terry through her recovery.
“My mom always told me that you have to stop focusing on the little stuff and think about the big picture, and that helped her keep going in marathons,” says Sarah. “For her, the ‘big picture’ during her races was about proving to herself that she was strong enough to cross that finish line.”
For Sarah, her marathon run will be about honoring her mom’s strength—and paying tribute to Terry’s Spaulding care team. Not only did their unwavering support and dedication help Terry in her recovery, they also inspired Sarah to quit her job in marketing and apply to nursing school.
Sarah on her first day of clinicals for nursing school.
“I saw first-hand how important nurses are to your experience,” says Sarah. “At Spaulding, I felt like our nurses were truly part of our ‘team’ rallying around my mom.” Sarah will be graduating from the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions’ Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program this spring, shortly after her Marathon debut.
While Terry’s recovery is still ongoing, her Spaulding team made a lasting impact on both Terry and her daughter. Sarah is inspired to run and raise money for Spaulding, with a goal simply to finish the race in support of “something bigger than myself.” And after that, she’s excited to become an advocate and support resource—not only for her future patients, but also for her fellow nurses.
Imagine the Possibilities
At a time when scientific advancements can help make the impossible possible, an investment in rehabilitation medicine has never been more necessary — or more promising.
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