Suffolk University Employee Sheila Keane To Run Boston Marathon® For Children's Hospital

4/5/2001

Growing up in Manhattan, Sheila Keane had a perfect view of the New York Marathon. "The race went right by where I lived," she said. "All I had to do was go outside my front door and see the runners going by."

Shortly after learning how to tie her sneakers, Keane became hooked on the popular athletic event. "I loved everything about it," she said. "Ever since I was about 6 years old, I've wanted to run the marathon. I just never had the chance to do it."

Until now. A casual runner for many years, Keane, a resident of Somerville, will finally take that next big step on April 16th when she participates in the 105th running of the Boston Marathon®.

"I can't believe the day is almost here," said Keane, who works as a periodicals technician in the Sawyer Library at Suffolk University. "I'm so excited I have dreams about it."

"I know Sheila will do a great job because she's very committed to whatever she does," said Cathy Boyle, circulation manager in the Sawyer Library at Suffolk University. "She is one of those people who finishes what she starts."

Keane has been preparing for the marathon for about a year, picking up the pace over the past few months. She has combined her running workouts with weight training and cross-country skiing.

"I've always been in decent shape, but the challenge of getting ready for a marathon has been incredible," said Keane, 24. "I've never committed myself to anything as physically demanding as preparing for this race. It has been a real eye-opening experience for me."

It also has been rewarding. Participating in the marathon has allowed Keane to raise $2,000 for the Greatest Need Fund at Children's Hospital. The money will help Children's Hospital in the areas of pediatric care, research, training and community service.

"I think Sheila and our other runners are just terrific," said Molly Gross, Special Events and Marathon Coordinator at Children's Hospital. "They come together from all over the country to help raise close to half a million dollars for the hospital. We're extremely grateful to them for making this event so successful."

"I wanted to raise money for children who really needed it," said Keane, who would like to become a high school teacher one day. "I have attended a couple of functions where the children and runners have met. That really touched me."

No one has inspired her more than Katie Lynch, a remarkable 26-year-old woman who has been a patient at Children's Hospital nearly her entire life, suffering various medical problems. Lynch, diagnosed with a unique form of dwarfism, is 28 inches tall and weighs 35 pounds. A recent college graduate, Lynch is now a Children's Hospital employee working in the Center for Families.

Her amazing story doesn't end there. A few hours before the official noontime start of the Boston Marathon®, Lynch, who normally uses a wheelchair to get around, will stand at the starting line in Hopkinton and attempt to walk a symbolic 26.2 feet (the marathon course is 26.2 miles) with her walker.

"Katie is my motivation to train hard and cross the finish line, no matter how long it takes," said Keane. "She is so nice, funny and upbeat. I really admire her hard work and commitment in dealing with her personal challenge."

Sitting in her office at Suffolk, Sheila Keane talked about how sore she expects be after completing the race. Nonetheless, don't expect a few aches and pains to diminish the spirit of this marathon lover.

"It's going to be tough, but I'll get over it," she said. "I'm already looking forward to doing this again next year."

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