I do not care for running in the rain. Some people love it but not me. Yesterday morning it was raining and I needed to run so I put on my tough girl pants and ran in the rain. While I was out there I remembered that many of the individuals I am training in honor of through the liver foundation would love to be healthy enough to run, in any weather. It’s such a blessing to be healthy and strong so I wanted introduce everyone to a friend who really appreciates that. Meet Jack Morea.
|Little Jack and I – 2006|
In 2005 I needed a number for the Boston Marathon and had heard good things about the American Liver Foundation’s team. I applied and was waitlisted (I was one of many women in their 20’s with minimal fundraising experience who had applied). I eventually called the office and convinced the team manager to accept me to the team. I was thrilled to learn I had scored an official race number but a little nervous about the fundraising – if I only knew what lied ahead I may have been nervous about my life turning upside down.
I knew nothing about liver disease but I joined the ALF ‘patient match program’ and was matched with a little boy, Jack Morea. Jack, who was just 2 at the time, was born with biliary atresia – a pediatric liver disease that affects the bile ducts. I exchanged emails with Jack’s mom, Michelle, and she told me all about their experience; how scary it was and how Jack needed a liver transplant to survive. Then she explained that her husband Dominic was able to be a live donor for Jack. They took a piece of Dom’s liver and transplanted it into Jack – then within months both livers regenerated to full size. I was blown away and then learned that this was relatively new technology – the first live liver transplant in the US was in 1989. I realized the money I was raising was helping to fund research and testing that resulted in progress just like this. I could be part of more miracles like Jack’s. I finally had an opportunity to meet the whole Morea family including Jack’s sister Catie and his brother Carl that April when they came to visit for the marathon. It was as if we had known each other forever and Jack’s infectious smile stayed with me through all 26.2 miles on race day.
Running for Jack was one of the reasons I knew I wanted to be more involved with the cause. The summer after that marathon I went to work for ALF managing the marathon team. I was committed to not only raising crucial funds for the cause but to also continue educating the community about liver disease and liver health. I had seen right before my eyes how the research to provide better treatments and solutions can save a life. Jack will be 10 years old this summer and while he has had more than his fair share of challenges, he lives life to the fullest enjoying school, his friends and sports. Thanks to the magic of Facebook I get to see photos of him all the time and every time I see him playing lacrosse or smiling with friends, I’m inspired all over again.
Register to be an organ and tissue donor here: Donate Life America Registry