Seven years ago when the Boston Ability Center first sponsored the Paddy’s Road Race, I challenged my friend Katie to do the race with me. By that time, Katie and I already knew each other quite well. Katie, 22, and I met in the Wellesley public preschool program well before it had its current name PAWS. Katie was 3, and I was – well, let’s just say it was 20 years ago. Since then we have woven in and out of each other’s lives. She cradled my daughter Grace in her arms not long after Grace was born and participated in the first ever Boston Ability Center photo shoot as we prepared to open our doors. We shared new classrooms, birthdays, graduations and other milestones such as learning to hop, skip and walk safely across a balance beam.
Last year I was honored to attend Katie’s transition planning meeting at Wellesley High School. As I looked around the room I saw the faces of the many people Katie had befriended along the way, each of them in awe of her comfort with public speaking, each of them in awe of what she had accomplished thus far. Today Katie is the hardest working 22 year old I know. She holds three jobs; as a teacher’s aide at The Bates School, a member of the waitstaff at Dunn Guerins and an aide at the Boston Ability Center. She is also working on growing her company “Colors of Katie” which features her own artwork. More importantly she has become this beautiful, strong young woman and a loyal friend. It’s possible that Katie and I have both been described by our family and friends as being stubborn. I sometimes wonder if that’s the reason we have been able to encourage and lean on each other along the way. That first year we ran Paddy’s together, we started out strong but panicked as we realized that 3 miles was quite a distance in the unexpected October heat. It took all of our combined determination and a lot of encouragement from our fans to cross the finish line. But when we did, it felt great.
This year, I’m proud to say we are a little more fit, thanks to Katie’s focus in the gym. Despite her busy schedule Katie has doubled down on her desire to be healthy. She easily meets her 10,000 steps per day goal, has boldly tried a variety of new, nutritious foods, and consistently exercises at Zumba and the BAC gym. I challenge any one of you to do more sit ups than Katie. Trust me, she will win. Better yet, I challenge you to set a goal and go after it with the same unwavering determination that Katie shows in everything she does. She sets a fantastic example for those of us lucky enough to call her friend.
Please be sure to look for us at Paddy’s on Sunday. We’d love your support! All proceeds from the race go to Athletes Unlimited, a truly remarkable organization.