Running for Kids Who Can’t

Categories: Events

When Matt Maler and his wife ran in this year’s Reid’s Run 5K event in Farmington—part of the annual Connecticut Children’s Race Series—they were supporting a Connecticut Children’s patient. But it wasn’t one of their two children. The patient was Matt himself and he was running for kids who can’t.

Matt Maler speaking at Reid's Run 2019Matt is a physical therapist in Southington. In 2017, he was diagnosed with a pediatric form of bone/soft tissue cancer known as Ewing’s sarcoma at the age of 35. The doctor’s at UConn Health Center didn’t have much experience with this form of cancer, so they referred him to Connecticut Children’s Center for Cancer & Blood Disorders, where doctors deal with Ewing’s sarcoma on a more frequent basis.

The Center is home to the Reid R. Sacco Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program treats patients aged 14 to 40, so Matt fit in perfectly. He went through intense inpatient chemotherapy for nine months, surgery on his femur to remove the original tumor and radiation to his lungs. He finished his chemotherapy in April of 2018 and radiation in June of the same year.

That’s when he and his wife, Courtney, decided they wanted to give something back, to honor the efforts that saved Matt’s life, and Reid’s Run seemed like the ideal way to do it.

Honoring Reid

Matt and his wife, Courtney, formed a fundraising team that raised $4,400 in 2018 and in 2019 totaled total nearly $10,000. Thanks in large part to their efforts, Reid’s Run generated $16,000 this year.

Run 4 Robin

Another springtime race, Run 4 Robin, took place May 19 in Nevers Road Park in South Windsor, where 120 hardy runners completed the 5K course despite early rain and cold weather. Together, they raised $7,580, which will benefit the Need You Now Fund for kidney research and family support. The fund was created in honor of Robin Kembla, a South Windsor resident who died in 2015 and whose daughter is being treated for kidney disease at Connecticut Children’s.

Fall Races Planned

This fall, running enthusiasts can lace up their running shoes for four more races to benefit patient care at Connecticut Children’s:

Miles for Miracles is a 5K race sponsored by Bendett & McHugh, P.C., taking place on Saturday, September 21. The course runs along the Hartford Riverfront, and is certified by USA Track and Field, the national governing body for these events. And the course now has chip timing (each runner carries a small electronic chip attached to the shoes, and sensors at key points along the route automatically keep track of that runner’s time). Organizers expect about 200 runners, all raising money for Connecticut Children’s Greatest Need Fund. Learn more here.

Team Connecticut Children's - Hartford Eversource Marathon
Runners in the Hartford Eversource Marathon have the option to make it a full marathon, a half-marathon, or a 5K event, but all start in the shadow of the capitol.

The Hartford Eversource Marathon takes place on Saturday, October 12, starting and ending in Bushnell Park and winding through West Hartford and South Windsor along the way. Runners can participate in a full marathon, half marathon, 5K, relay or HMF Fit Kids race. Connecticut Children’s is one of the official charities of the marathon, and last year Team Connecticut Children’s fielded 220 runners and raised more than $100,000—the largest numbers for any charity team—to benefit patient care at Connecticut Children’s. Learn more here.

Runners take off at Jamie’s Run in 2018. One of the hallmarks of this race is the usually invigorating temperatures and the large Kids K race before the full 5K run.

Jamie’s Run, the fourth event in the series, takes place Sunday, November 3, in Standish Park in Wethersfield. Jamie’s Run is a 5K race that supports Connecticut Children’s Clinical Trials Program, which makes the latest advances in cancer treatment available to patients. It also supports the Family Assistance Fund, which helps families facing financial challenges while their children undergo cancer treatment. The race is named for Jamie Knotts, the daughter of Kurt and Kelly Knotts, who tragically lost her battle with cancer at 5½ months of age. Learn more here.

This year, Jamie’s Run is celebrating its 10th anniversary and expects more than 1,300 runners. It looks like runners may surpass the $500,000 mark for the total amount raised over those 10 years, all to help provide the best medical care for children.

And for young adults like Matt Maler.

New Outlook on Life

Some forms of cancer are primarily pediatric, and when an adult like Matt Maler, pictured here, develops one of these tumors, pediatric oncologists often know best how to treat them. That’s why Connecticut Children’s Reid R. Sacco Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program treats patients from 14 to 40.

“Since completing my treatment,” Matt says, “my perspective on life has changed, in a really great way. My family and I have made a promise to take a trip prior to each set of scans I have. I no longer takes things for granted, and I have a new outlook on life. I have achieved the one-year milestone of having ‘no evidence of disease.’ I try to live life to the fullest and praise God for every day I get with my family and friends.

To support runners in Team Connecticut Children’s in the Hartford Eversource Marathon or Jamie’s Run—or to put on your running shoes and join them—simply click here to access our Race Series events.