2014 Boston Marathon runner: Christa Brady

Above: Christa Brady ran the Boston Marathon in ’96 with support from her brother Ned. Now, the Southborough mom will be running in his memory. (Photos from her fundraising page)

On Monday, April 21, thirty-five Southborough residents will don a bib a to run in this year’s Boston Marathon. Many will be raising funds for important causes in the process.

Every runner has a story, and from now until marathon day, I’ll feature as many as I can.

Today, I’m sharing news from Christa Brady who is running for the Michael Lisnow Respite Center. Here’s her story.

I grew up in a large, loud, loving family with 3 sisters and 3 brothers. As 3rd in that line-up of 7, I considered myself one of the elders, but in time all of us realized the true master in our midst: our brother Ned, who earned the nickname Tuf Guy (yes, that’s the correct spelling) from our dad at birth.

With an intestinal blockage sometimes affecting babies with Down Syndrome, Ned nearly didn’t make it home to us. Fortunately for us, he made it through surgery and blessed our lives ever since.

Without words, Ned taught us many important life lessons, more than we could ever have taught him. He taught us that living without worry, doubt, or self-consciousness led to a fuller, happier existence. He taught us to find contentment in simple pleasures like music and ice cream and hugs. Above all, he taught us love and compassion.

Ned lived a full and fabulous life, including several in a group home with four dear friends and a close-knit staff: Ned’s second family.

At the beginning of this February, Ned died unexpectedly at the age of 42. Though I alternate between disbelief and incredible sadness and any number of other emotions these days, I intend to run those 26.2 miles and cross the finish line on Boylston Street in his honor.

Because of Ned, I am especially grateful and proud to run the marathon on behalf of the Michael Lisnow Respite Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a “home away from home” for children and adults with disabilities. 100% of the money raised by Michael’s Miracle Marathon Team benefits families who otherwise cannot afford care.

On a recent visit to the Respite Center, I observed first hand the warm and engaging home enjoyed by all there. In front of a fireplace, two people played a game of cards. In another room, a group was learning to accompany a song with sign language. I watched a couple of movie trailers that one of their clubs had scripted, acted, and filmed. I heard someone playing the guitar and others singing. Everywhere I saw smiles. Take a moment to visit their website www.hopkintonrespite.com to learn more about the Respite Center’s programs.

In 1996, I participated in the 100th running of the Boston Marathon. Ned cheered me on that year. With your help, he’ll run with me this year along with thousands of others on that “long road to Boston.” Every one of us has a story and an inspiration. More often than not, they’re stories of struggle and triumph. Undoubtedly, they’re stories of love. In the company of an angel nicknamed Tuf Guy, my victory is certain, and together with you and all those beautiful people at the Respite Center, we will provide living proof that love prevails.

If you want to help Christa raise funds, click here to find out how to donate.

[If you’re running the Boston Marathon and would like to have your story featured, drop me a line at mysouthborough@gmail.com]

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