The marathon is 2500 years old, dating to a battle fought by the Greeks against the invading Persian armies in 490 BC. The modern Athens marathon commemorates the run (approximately 42.195 km) of the soldier Pheidippides, who ran from a battlefield at the site of the town of Marathon, Greece, to Athens in 490 BC, bringing news of a Greek victory over the Persians. Legend has it that Pheidippides delivered the momentous message "Niki!" ("victory"), then collapsed and died, thereby setting a precedent for dramatic conclusions to the marathon.
In modern times, running has gained a significant and a sustainable resurgence, especially in the last 40 years. The marathon, half marathon, and 10K and 5K runs are popular avenues for raising awareness and benefiting charities. However, few of these events have focused on patients with physical disabilities resulting from the wounds of natural disasters and wounded warriors. I'm sure that there are many wound care professionals who are involved in charities, and walking or running. These long-distance efforts require work, and there is no reason why the energy created by this work shouldn't inspire one's self and others to celebrate through giving.
I would like to highlight some recent efforts made by wound care professionals to use the marathon for altruism.
The Running Nurse
Barbara Bates-Jensen, PhD, RN, CWOCN, FAAN, associate professor, University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Nursing and School of Medicine, was inspired after finishing her first marathon (Los Angeles marathon in 2010) and coupled with her efforts as a volunteer in the Haiti earthquake disaster to set up the UCLA Bates-Jensen Wound REACH Foundation (WRF). The WRF is her personal commitment to improve wound care in the United States and in resource-poor countries.
"Providing and directing care as the chief of wound care services in Haiti 1 month after the earthquake was truly life changing. I returned in July 2010 to provide wound education for Haitian physicians and nurses. These experiences opened my eyes to the needs of wound patients and clinicians around the world, and I felt compelled to do something to improve the situation," she stated (personal communication with Barbara M. Bates-Jensen PhD, RN, CWOCN).
Now an avid runner, Dr Bates-Jensen has collateralized her missionary zeal in wound care to use running events to help raise resources for her passion to help others. The "OUCH! Race Series" are events conducted throughout the year. The 5K/10K OUCH! Race events are held alongside professional meetings, such as those for wound care and diabetes. For 2011, a 5K run/walk was held in Washington, District of Columbia, on September 10, which was coincidental to the Clinical Symposium on Advances in Skin & Wound Care. Donations and registration for the various race events can be accessed at www.ouchrace.com.
The Wounded Navy "Doc"
Jay Raffetto is a Navy corpsman trained as a Special Amphibious Marine Reconnaissance Corpsman, an elite team of combat medics who provide initial combat lifesaver and trauma care for marine war fighters. On August 5, 2010, while serving with the First Marine Reconnaissance Battalion in Afghanistan, he was seriously wounded by an improvised explosive device. He is now a triple amputee: both legs above the knee, his left arm above the elbow, and he also lost 3 fingers on his right hand. He faces a long road to recovery and is currently in intense physical rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, District of Columbia. Jay and his wife Emily are a team, striving for independence, with the help of the military rehabilitation professionals and the community. They are receiving support through their local community's Chester County Heroes Fund in Pennsylvania.
As a physician, friend of the Raffeto family, and a Vietnam veteran, I feel an obligation to help raise money and awareness for the wounded warriors who have made great sacrifices. I will run in the Marine Corps Marathon on October 30, 2011, with 2 goals: finishing the race and raising money for a new project related to Raffetto's necessities. The community is currently working on strategies to help build a completely accessible home for the Raffettos. Information is available at http://chestercountyherofund.com/.
As we live our lives in relative safety, we should remember the extraordinary sacrifices made by the men and women who serve our country.
Richard "Sal" Salcido, MD
History: Athens Marathon. http://www.athensmarathon.com/marathon/history.html
. Last accessed August 26, 2010.
Wound Reach Foundation. http://nursing.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=273
. Last accessed August 26, 2010.