By Dr. Geoffrey Rosenthal, Director, Children’s Heart Program
Running is my passion. I haven’t skipped a day of running in four years and have been known to run even while injured, powering through a stress fracture or more recently, cracked ribs. On most weekends, it’s not uncommon to find me running. Ideally, I’m participating in a marathon or half marathon.
People always ask me what motivates me to run each day. I do it for the children. I run because I know we can do more to make life better for those touched by childhood heart disease.
When you’re running for 26 miles, you have a lot time on your hands. There’s time to reflect and time to talk to other runners. It’s also a great time to promote my other passion – the University of Maryland Children’s Heart Program.
I always wear my Children’s Heart Program t-shirt on race day, whether I’m at the Baltimore Marathon or the Boston Marathon. Some of the best conversations begin with a comment about my shirt. People share stories about how congenital heart disease has touched their lives. It is a powerful reminder of how many people are impacted. Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect, affecting 1 in 110 infants born each year. Congenital heart disease is also the most common cause of infant mortality from birth defects.
On October 15, 2011, I will run in the Baltimore Running Festival and proudly wear my Children’s Heart Program shirt. But on this day, I won’t be alone. 140 runners will also be wearing the shirt to help raise awareness and funds for our program. Our running team has members, ages 4 to 57, participating in a wide range of events, from the Kids Fun Run to the Baltimore Marathon. They come from not only Maryland, but Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York.
Since last year, the University of Maryland Children’s Heart Program has grown to include a total of seven pediatric cardiologists, a cardiologist who specializes in adult congenital heart disease, and a pediatric heart surgeon. Together, the team specializes in fetal diagnosis, management of heart rhythm problems, interventional cardiology, management of congenital heart disease in adults, pediatric cardiovascular thoracic surgery, and neonatal heart surgery. We’re joined by specialists in nursing, quality improvement, nutrition, social work and other fields. We’re building an expert team whose talents will help children with congenital heart disease live longer and lead more active lives. We have set out with the goal to ensure that no child will need to leave the state of Maryland to receive needed care for heart problems.
To support the University of Maryland Children’s Heart Program Running Team, visit: www.ummsfoundation.org/pedsteam