By Caitlin Olejnik
October 7, 2018 is a special day, not only because I will be running my first marathon, but because it’s also my daughter Loralai’s third birthday. It is because of the excellent care from the doctors at Advocate Health Care that Loralai will be celebrating a happy and healthy birthday this year.
Loralai was recently diagnosed with Williams Syndrome, a genetic condition characterized by medical problems including cardiovascular disease, developmental delays and learning challenges. These often occur side by side with striking verbal abilities, highly social personalities and an affinity for music. If you have had the pleasure of spending time with Loralai, you have most likely fell victim to her infectious smile and huge personality.
In March of 2017, Loralai had a cardiac catheter procedure done due to a diagnosis of pulmonary stenosis (narrowing of her right pulmonary artery). Her cardiologist has been a crucial part of her health care team and was the person to get the ball rolling on her genetic testing. She also visits a geneticist, ENT, ophthalmologist, endocrinologist and a few other physicians to check calcium levels, thyroid function and ensure her overall health.
We don’t know what the future looks like for her, however, we do know that she is healthy thanks to the Advocate Health Care team.
I realize there are so many ways to raise money for charities, so why choose to spend hundreds of hours training to run 26.2 miles? I am running because, for me, running is therapy. Running is what has gotten me through some tough times, and these past few months are no exception.
Have a bad day at work? Go for a run. Kids are being particularly crabby and needy? Go for a run. Receive a phone call that your child has an incurable genetic disorder? You have permission to cry and breakdown, then pick yourself up and go for a run.
I run to make myself a better me for my family. I run for more birthdays. I run for Loralai. And if my running can also raise money to help kids and families who turn to Advocate Health Care, then it is a win for all involved!