Marathon pioneer Kathrine Switzer: How I celebrate International Women’s Day


Kathrine Switzer broke the gender barrier at the previous all-male Boston Marathon, won the New York City Marathon, and created women’s running events in 27 countries that spearheaded the women’s marathon into the Olympic Games. She is an Emmy Award-winning sports commentator, the author of three books, and is currently leading ‘261 Fearless’, a women’s empowerment movement through running.

This Sunday, March 8, is International Women’s Day. This day we celebrate the achievements of women with a day of action: more than talk, we will DO.

For me, it’s also a day I happily reflect on my mantra:

Be Fearless, Be Free, Be Grateful.

Our mantras are a reflection of own lives, and sure, mine includes the hard work, risks and the awakenings of many years. But this mantra also evolved from the contributions and collective spirit of many women’s lives, both past and future, and in the spirit of celebration, I’d like to share its evolution with you.

When I first ran the 26.2 mile/42.2 km Boston Marathon wearing bib number 261, I broke a huge barrier of women’s so-called limitation. Barriers are broken when myths are finally shattered, and that comes when women are given an opportunity to prove themselves. Talent and capability exist in all of us; we only need the opportunity to try. Social change and advancement, fearlessness and vision come by adding facts and inspiration, but the opportunity is paramount.

As I write this, I’m on a plane to the 261 Women’s Marathon in Mallorca, and it is most fitting that this event is being held on International Women’s Day, because the event was created as an opportunity for women to experience breaking the myth of their own limitation. Women need to prove to themselves they can take on a challenge and succeed; they need to DO it to understand. The spirit at this particular run is electric and life-changing, because when women run a marathon, they know they can do anything.

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Ella’s story: Two rare diseases and the NICU roller coaster ride

ella  1“Everyone tells you that the NICU is a roller coaster ride. What they don’t tell you is that it’s a customized roller coaster ride just for you. You never know what’s coming at you next,” says Carrie Shea, whose daughter Ella spent her first three months of life in Boston Children’s Hospital NICU.

Today, Ella is a “remarkably normal little girl,” says Carrie. It’s quite a feat for the three-year-old who was born with GACI (generalized arterial calcification of infancy), an extremely rare condition with an 85 percent mortality rate, and diagnosed with PKU (phenylketonuria), a second rare genetic disorder, a few weeks after birth.

But Ella and her parents seem to have a knack for beating the odds.

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Head lice: What parents need to know

Earlier this year, a Springfield toddler suffocated as her family attempted a home treatment for head lice. The case is a tragic reminder that anyone can get lice, no matter your income, the way you clean your home or how many pets you own. But there are recommended ways to treat an infestation.

Are there natural or home remedies that work? There are some who claim that mayonnaise or petroleum jelly can be used to coat the head and smother the lice. This has not been proven effective, and even the most well-behaved of young children will not sit with goop on their heads for the recommended 20 hours while wearing a shower cap.

Added to the questionable effectiveness of natural remedies are some serious issues:

  • There are frequent allergies to natural remedies like tea tree oil.
  • Plastic shower caps used for protecting fancy hair-dos from the shower are dangerous around children. Children should never have plastic bags on their heads.
  • Oils—peppermint oil, pepper oil or the essential oil of your choice—used in home remedies to smother lice are really hard to clean out of hair, couches and bedding.
  • The remedy some adults use for head lice—dying hair—should not be used on children. Your child most likely already uses shampoos and sunblock for sensitive skin. Adult hair dye can cause reactions for children, including broken skin, hair loss, hives, itching and burns.

How do you know your child has lice?

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After cochlear implant surgery, Isabelle celebrates two birthdays in one month

February is a pretty special month for Isabelle. She and her twin sister Jasmine celebrated their seventh birthdays on February 20. But February 4 belongs to Isabelle alone.  “We call it her hearing birthday. It’s one year from the date when her cochlear implants were activated,” says Isabelle’s mother Vicki Labriola.

Isabelle L + Jasmine_crop




Diagnosed with progressive hearing loss shortly after birth, Isabelle was fitted with hearing aids at six weeks of age. But cochlear implants—surgically implanted devices that provide a sense of sound to the profoundly deaf or hard of hearing—were the best option. As her hearing loss progressed, hearing aids could no longer meet her needs. The implanted devices, provided in concert with services from Boston Children’s Cochlear Implant Program, could help Isabelle build language and communication skills.

Vicki and her husband Jason decided to proceed with the surgery in February 2014. They weren’t sure how it would work, because by the time Isabelle was scheduled for surgery, she was completely deaf in her left ear.

How did it work out? “It’s a whole different world from last year. Although Isabelle talked with us, she was very shy with other people. Now, she won’t stop talking. I think that’s because she is so much more confident in her hearing. She really lets people into her world,” says Vicki.

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