r By Tiane Kennedy
The Utah Valley Marathon on June 9 will be 55-year-old Michele Rector’s thirteenth marathon in thirteen different states and she’s not slowing down until she runs 37 more in the next 5 years. To reach her lofty goal of “50 by 60” Rector will have to participate in an average of 9 marathons per year.
Michele began running four years ago after the last of her children left home for college, and completed her first marathon in her hometown of Houston in 2016. In the beginning, she was running for enjoyment. But she decided it was time to do something more important with her marathons, and remembered when her youngest son, Graham, was 8 years old and diagnosed with a rare childhood disease that affects the hip called Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease. At the time she often wished someone would bring attention to this little-known disease. Seventeen years later, she is the “someone” that is making that wish come true.
Rector is running for kids who can’t run. An additional bonus is the encouragement she is giving to the families of kids with the disease who are scared and worried about their children’s future. At the different cities where she has run, families of Perthes kids have come to cheer her on. Even the doctors working with these children despite limited research funding have been enthusiastic about Michele bringing attention to Perthes. Dr. Harry Kim, with the International Perthes Study Group, invited Michele to speak on a panel at the Pediatric Orthopedic Society of North America’s annual meeting in Austin this past May.
Michele’s goal is to raise $50,000 for research in this under-funded childhood disease to help other children and to find new ways of treating it. And what happened to that little 8-year-old boy, her son Graham? He is now a 24-year-old second-year medical student at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine. His proud mother says Dr. Julian Chang in Hong Kong (where his family lived at the time of his diagnosis) and Dr. William Phillips at Texas Children’s Hospital were a significant influence for his decision to pursue medicine because of their personal, thoughtful, caring treatment which he experienced first-hand.
Michele says, “We were blessed – we had a wonderful orthopedic surgeon and we had very good insurance. I stayed home and didn’t have to work. Many families don’t have it so good. They don’t have access to doctors that understand Perthes, they may not have good insurance, and they might have either two working parents or be a single-parent home. One of the reasons I run is for those families. So they don’t feel so alone. So they know there is a group of physicians from around that world that understand Perthes and are constantly re-evaluating treatment for better outcomes. So that someday the cause of Perthes will be discovered and a cure can be found.”
If you’d like to help Michele reach her goal and fund the study of Perthes, improving the lives of children in the throws of the disease, please donate directly to https://www.perthesdisease.org/perthes-disease-donate. Be sure to put ” 50 by 60 ” in the comment section of the donation page so they know how you heard about them.rMarathons run:rOhio, Flying Pig Marathon Cincinnati, OH May 2018rMassachusetts, Boston Marathon Boston, MA April 2018rArkansas, Little Rock Marathon Little Rock, AR Mar 2018rFlorida, Walt Disney World Marathon Orlando, FL Jan 2018rNew York, NYC Marathon NYC, NY Nov 2017rNebraska, State Fair Marathon Grand Island, NE Aug 2017rMontana, Missoula Marathon Missoula, MT July 2017rMinnesota, Grandma’s Marathon Duluth, MN June 2017rAlaska, Prince of Wales Marathon Craig, AK May 2017rNevada, Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Las Vegas, NV Nov 2016rOregon, Portland Marathon Portland, OR Oct 2016rTexas, Houston Marathon Houston, TX Jan 2016rUpcoming Marathons for 2018:
Utah, Utah Valley Marathon Wallsburg, UT June 2018rVermont, Mad Marathon Waitsfield, VT July 2018rSouth Dakota, Leading Ladies Marathon Spearfish, SD Aug 2018rIllinois, Chicago Marathon Chicago, IL Oct 2018rVirginia, Marine Corps Marathon Arlington, VA Oct 2018
Michele, may also have the opportunity to run with Team TCS, her sponsor in both the NYC & Chicago marathons, in Berlin this September, and Mumbai, India, January 2019.