Far from the white beaches and turquoise waters of the Persian Gulf, a mother stands in a sea of people, arms wrapped around her sons, as a wave of passengers click the handles of their carry-ons, wheeling them toward their destinations.
Saleema Al Shukri has just arrived at Logan Airport from Abu Dhabi.
It has been six long months since she has seen her sons Saeed, 16, and Ahmed, 23, and her husband Fadel, all of whom temporarily relocated to Boston to begin a journey of hope and healing, while Saleema remained at home to care for the rest of the family.
Two years earlier, at the age of 14, Saeed was diagnosed with kidney dysplasia, a condition that results from the malformation of the kidney during fetal development. While Saeed had remained relatively well his entire life, his doctors in Abu Dhabi noticed that his blood levels started to become abnormal, showing his kidneys were beginning to fail.
Sarah Edney, women’s ice hockey defenseman at Harvard University, has had an impressive college career, scoring 25 goals and 63 assists during her four years playing for the Crimson women. Competing at this level requires an athlete to skate year-round and put in countless hours of off-ice training.
During her senior year, Sarah played a key role in the Crimson women’s 2014-15 season. The team often outplayed the competition, winning every championship, until losing in the National Championship game at the Frozen Four. Sarah was showered with honors and named MVP for the League tournament and second team All-American. The Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) named her defenseman of year in March.
The big surprise? “My best year of college hockey came after hip surgery and without skating for four months.”
From marathon volunteer to injury prevention pioneer—it’s all part of Dr. Lyle Micheli’s mission to keep runners and athletes of all types on the field.
Sore quads. That’s one of Lyle Micheli’s memories from the 1975 Boston Marathon. But Dr. Micheli, Director of Boston Children’s Sports Medicine, wasn’t sore from running. As a medical volunteer at what was a “very informal” event in 1975, Micheli spent the day ducking and “limboing” under the ropes marking the last feet of the 26.2-mile run and making sure the athletes were OK to proceed beyond the finish area.
Since that day, running has gained tremendous popularity. The Boston Marathon has increased from a mere 1,000 runners in 1975 to 30,000 in 2015. Micheli has been at the finish line year after year as a way to give back to his beloved city and the historic race.
The medical tent has matured from an informal crew stocked with Bands-Aids, beef stew and water to a highly sophisticated organization, comprised of multiple teams of medical professionals with designated assignments.
Still, nothing prepared Micheli and other volunteers for 2013. “We weren’t equipped with life-saving equipment.” Forty years earlier, as a member of the U.S. Air Force, Micheli had received evacuation training. It kicked in—he jerry-rigged a tourniquet from a runner’s jacket and triaged injured spectators.
Micheli will be on hand at the finish line again in 2015. While his primary motivation is community service, Micheli and Boston Children’s Sports Medicine staff and patients reap plenty of benefits from their commitment to the race. “We encourage all of our fellows to attend. It’s a model for mass casualty training.” Plus, the doctors learn by observing elite athletes.
“We want him to run and fall like any other kid,” says Adreana Duchesne, describing her approach to raising her 4-year-old son Mason. Adreana and her husband Jeremy know that even though their son has complex congenital heart disease, his lifestyle doesn’t need to be limited in any way.
“Mason is super hyperactive! He’s a maniac, he’s fresh; he loves to sing and dance and put on a show. He has a personality the size of Texas.” He also has a scar the length of a ballpoint pen on his chest—the one visual reminder of his three open heart surgeries.
Adreana found out about Mason’s heart condition at her 20-week prenatal ultrasound near the family’s home in western Mass. “We were told to simply go home and grieve—that there was nothing we could do to save our son’s life. But we wouldn’t accept that.”