Thursday, December 12, 2013

Boston 2014 Runner Spotlight: Karis Antokal

"The answer to the big questions in running is the same as the answer to the big questions in life: do the best with what you've got."

"I'm not a runner -- well not yet anyway," Karis said to me during yesterday's Aquatics Therapy Class at Spaulding Rehab.

"Oh yes you are," I said somewhat out of breath as Karis put us through our paces with Michael Jackson's tunes keeping us pumped up during the Find Your Aquatics Strength workout.

I reminded Karis of this quote:

Karis applied to the 2014 Spaulding Rehab Race for Rehab Team inspired by the strength and courage of the survivors of the Boston Marathon bombings who received their care at Spaulding. Karis is a massage therapist at Spaulding.

Here is a photo of her from the Patriot Ledger which captures her compassionate care with a teen who was paralyzed and vowed to walk again:

She tells me all the time what an inspiration I am to her. Well she inspires me every week, twice a week to challenge myself and find my strength in new ways. In yesterday evening's class she had us "play hop scotch" in the pool and pivot doing squats. She coaxes us along as our heart rates rise and we are moving in every direction to nourish our neuromuscular and myofascial systems. She is tender and compassionate while also pushing everyone to their edge. She watches everyone in the pool to ensure that we are safe in the way we are doing the exercises. She knows my neurological challenges yet works with me to go beyond the challenges.

And she is challenging herself in new ways....

Karis had never run before. She started with a couch to 5K program and will work with the Race for Rehab team to train to go the distance on April 21, 2014. I know it won't be easy especially as she trains through the grueling New England winter. But I also know that with Karis' fiery Spirit, her background in dance and her joy of movement; her dedication to her patients at Spaulding along with her sense of humor (a must for every runner), she will go the distance.

And she is going to need your help in going the distance with fund raising. She started her fund raising page today and let's inspire her to log those miles as we donate those dollars... Here is the link to her fund raising page on Crowd Rise.

A week from Wednesday, I turn 60 years old. Spaulding is where I took the first steps on my healing journey seven years ago this month. Spaulding is where I am building strength and creating change moving beyond paralytic polio and trauma. The best gift you can give to me is to donate to Karis' fund raising page so that Spaulding can continue to do the phenomenal work they do in helping all who come through their doors to find their strength.

As I left class to go home, I stopped by the office to thank Karis for another great class. I smiled and said, repeat after me, "I am a runner." She smiled that beautiful smile of hers and said, "I am a runner."

Courage - January 5, 2009 from A Celebration of Life now available on Amazon
The fear of ice and snow and slush embedded in my soul
a training run in winter - the path to Being whole.
A winter scene - Jamaica Pond - a feast for eyes' delight
to witness nature's splendor and behold this glorious sight.
A leaf - a tiny dancer - skating free without a sound
God's breath directs her movements, as She guides her twirling 'round.
Families of ducks decide to walk or take a dip
a comedy of errors into icy water slip.
The branches now bejeweled with ice bend with loving Grace
sparkling diamonds' anchor water's surface hold in place.
God's hand a glove of glistening snow hugs rocks along the wall
their heads peek out reminding me I'm answering God's call.
A scene I'd never witness if I let my fear take hold
courage triumphed, steppin' out with footsteps sure and bold.
Knowing that the pain subsides and Spirit can prevail
the Marathon is beckoning - through those miles I shall sail.

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