Running with Purpose for Patient Care

Categories: Events, Patient Families
Hathorn Family
The Hathorn family—Gabe and Jennie and their children (l-r) Nolan, Maddie and Maya—ran their first Hartford Marathon 5K in 2014, three months after 8-year-old Maya was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at Connecticut Children’s.

Not everyone is a marathon runner. But everyone who runs for Team Connecticut Children’s in the annual Eversource Hartford Marathon is running with purpose. Each year, the Hathorn family laces up their running shoes and throws their support behind the Division of Gastroenterology Team, “Gutz ‘n Glory,” as a way to give back.

Gabe and Jennie Hathorn and their children, Maddie, 15, Maya, 13, and Nolan, 11, have been running the 5K for the past six years, raising more than $15,000 in support of Connecticut Children’s Center for Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

“It’s something we absolutely love doing together to raise money for Connecticut Children’s,” Gabe said. “It’s rewarding for all of us. We’ve been doing it in support of our daughter, Maya. We thought it was a nice way to give back.”

Six years and counting! The Hathorn family continues to run the 5K as part of team “Gutz ‘n Glory” in support of Connecticut Children’s Center for Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Gabe and Jennie Hathorn and their children, Maddie, 15, Nolan, 11, and Maya, 13, are pictured at this year’s event held October 12 in Bushnell Park.

Maya has been a patient at Connecticut Children’s ever since she was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (UC) at age 8. Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes chronic inflammation and ulcers or sores in the large intestine. While there is no cure for UC, medical treatments are directed toward eliminating the intestinal inflammation and, therefore, bringing patients back to good health. Medically resistant patients may need surgery.

Maya, an 8th grader who plays cello and violin, enjoys bike riding and is active in gymnastics, said the most challenging thing about having UC is the frustration when she doesn’t feel well. “I don’t like sitting around,” she said. “I want to be active and do something productive.”

“Most days I feel great,” she said. “My medicine works very well for me, so I don’t have to miss out on many things.”

The Hartford Marathon is one of those things.

Running with Purpose

“The Hartford Marathon 5K is an amazing experience,” her mom, Jennie, said. “I never seem to find the time to train, so I am always a bit nervous on race day. Once I am there, it is one of my favorite days of the year. There are so many people running for causes so dear to their hearts. When I cross that finish line, I am full of feelings of accomplishment and gratitude.”

With a treatment plan in place at Connecticut Children’s, ulcerative colitis has not kept Maya, 13, from gymnastics and other activities she loves.

The gratitude she and her family feels is for the care Maya has received at Connecticut Children’s. It was blood in her stool that first led them to Maya’s pediatrician’s office in search of answers. Her bloodwork was concerning and her pediatrician worked with Connecticut Children’s Division of Gastroenterology to get her seen as soon as possible.

“After Maya was diagnosed and in remission, we were so thankful for the care she had received,” Jennie said. “When your child is sick, you feel helpless. By running and fundraising, we can help Connecticut Children’s doctors continue their research to further understand ulcerative colitis, to improve treatments and one day find a cure.”

“I always say how lucky we are to have Connecticut Children’s so close to home,” Jennie added. “Not only have they given Maya amazing care, her sister Maddie was treated there for hip dysplasia as a newborn, and her brother Nolan has made multiple trips to the emergency department. Everyone we have ever encountered has been so kind and helpful.”

Fundraising and Giving Back

Although the Hathorn family does not run competitively, they like to achieve their fundraising goals. “Our goal is to raise about $2,500 a year as a family,” Gabe said. In addition to online donations, he said Maya also contributes to the fundraising efforts by baking treats, affectionately known as “Maya’s Munchies,” which he takes to his office in Glastonbury.

Maya, age 9, took 3rd place in her age group in the Eversource Hartford Marathon 5K in 2015.

“I wanted to help with our fundraising and my sister and I like to bake,” Maya said. “We knew that a lot of people that my dad works with like their sweets, so I thought it would be a good idea.”

Running with purpose, the “Gutz ‘n Glory” team raised more than $19,500 in this year’s event. “All of the money raised by Team Gutz ‘n Glory comes back to the Center for Pediatric IBD to benefit our patients,” said Petra Amrein, who is IBD Clinical Care Coordinator at the Center. “These kids are brave and funny and strong and inspire us daily.”

“We want to make their lives better in whatever ways we can,” Petra said. “Every year, I ask for ideas from the runners about how we should spend some of the money. This past year, one of the ideas was a pair of virtual reality goggles for the Infusion Center. What an amazing addition they have been! Kids get transported to another world, and by the time they take a peek out, their IV has already been placed. Another idea was a lending library. Children can look for a new book when they come for their next infusion.”

“Above all, we have supported our Center’s groundbreaking research,” Petra said.

Gil Peri, President and Chief Operating Officer at Connecticut Children’s (center), crosses the finish line at this year’s Eversource Hartford Marathon, which took place October 12.

Team Connecticut Children’s raised more than $110,000 during the Eversource Hartford Marathon, half marathon and 5K, all of which stepped off from Bushnell Park on Saturday, October 12. The event has raised more than $600,000 over the past 15 years and has raised more than $220,000 in the last two years alone. Two-hundred runners comprise Team Connecticut Children’s and support numerous Divisions throughout Connecticut Children’s, all running with purpose.

“Team Connecticut Children’s is proud to be the largest, official charity team participating in the Eversource Hartford Marathon,” said Gil Peri, President and Chief Operating Officer at Connecticut Children’s, who also ran in this year’s 5K. “Every year, our team has grown larger and more successful than the last. Together, we’ll keep growing, running and fundraising for Connecticut Children’s. It’s all about running for the right reasons.”

Interested in running with Team Connecticut Children’s? View registration types and get some friends together to run with us in 2020! 

Some 200 people, including Connecticut Children’s staff, patient families, friends and others, comprise Team Connecticut Children’s and fundraise for Divisions throughout the hospital through the annual Eversource Hartford Marathon.