My name is Ray Phillips. I live in Acton, MA and will be 68 years old in March 2016. I ran my first marathon shortly after my 50th birthday in 1998. So far, through January 2016, I’ve completed 99 marathons, in total, and 16 consecutive Boston Marathons. Since 2000, sponsored by Hanscom Federal Credit Union and the generous donations of its members, I’ve been a member of the Children’s Hospital Boston Marathon Team, and that is where I first met Andy Martin, then 4 years old, who has been my Patient Partner/Teammate for every one of those 16 Boston Marathons.
The focus of this story is about my partnership with Andy, who lives in Goffstown, NH, and became 18 years old as of his birthday in October 2013. Andy has been receiving treatment from Children’s Hospital since birth, as he was born with spina bifida and is paralyzed from the waist down. He maneuvers around in his wheelchair, but will sometimes walk with the support of crutches and lower body brace to help build up his upper body strength. (Although for most of us, walking is easy and is something that we take for granted, for Andy, it takes fierce determination and every ounce of his strength.) Andy takes on his challenges all in stride, and with a positive spirit. I’ve learned a lot about how to approach life from Andy over the past sixteen years. He is my inspiration and has given me a purpose for running. I used to think that I was running the Boston Marathon for Andy and I’d get to feel pretty good about myself. However, that’s not what I think anymore, as I now realize that I run the Boston Marathon because of Andy Martin. I still get to feel good about myself, but the credit all belongs to Andy.
But the real heart of this story is that when Andy Martin was just 4 years old, he made it his goal to be a wheelchair entrant in the Boston Marathon. In this story, we’ll recount our journey together in pursuit of fulfilling Andy’s hopes and dreams of actually becoming a wheelchair entrant in the Boston Marathon. The story will provide a chronicle of experiences related to our Children’s Hospital Boston Marathon Team partnership, starting with our first meeting at a reception prior to the 2000 Boston Marathon, through the present, and a look ahead into the future.