My 11th Marathon: Anthony Piatek
Ever since the day my mother, Mary Jo Piatek, was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, I made the decision to become a marathon runner to run in her honor in order to spread awareness of the disease and to raise funds to help find a cure.
That was April of 2010. Unfortunately, she passed away three years later in July of 2013, but I still continue to run today to fight against a disease that has taken and affected too many of our loved ones.
I’ve now ran 11 marathons, doing my part, in this battle against PH. Even though I dedicate each race to the honor and memory of my mother, I’m truly running for the entire PH community: all those that have passed on, those that are currently battling the disease, the caregivers, the PH organizations, the doctors and nurses. We are all in this together.
Through the Team PHenomenal Hope Let Me Be Your Lungs program, as an athlete, I’m able to be paired up with a PH patient and dedicate a run in their name. Last month, I had the privilege to dedicate my run to PH patient Benita Kosiara.
Benita is an amazing individual. On top of personally living with the disease for years, she also runs the PH support group based in Elmhurst, Illinois. There she sets up group meetings, sends emails to the group that includes various helpful information regarding PH, and ultimately is a friend and mentor to those who join the group and might be new to the disease.
Benita might not realize how huge of an impact she is to the PH community overall and to this support group in particular. I know this first hand as my mother, Mary Jo, was part of the group.
When first diagnosed, my mother was scared, felt alone, and was in denial that she had a life-threatening disease that none of us even heard of before. She was hesitant to join a support group but when she joined, Benita was there with open arms to welcome her and provided her with not just information and mentorship on how to handle and live with the disease, but also, and more importantly, provided love and friendship.
I know my mother cherished Benita and I do as well and it was a privilege to be able to run this year’s marathon for her.