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A Healthy Pace

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— July 15, 2018

A Healthy Pace

  • Our own Frank Timlin runs the Boston Marathon and raises more than $6,000 for Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
  • By Violet Snow
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“When I’m running, all my troubles are gone,” says Frank Timlin, Eastern Sales Manager for Nature’s Plus, his employer for the past 19 years. “My job involves a lot of traveling, so it’s kind of stressful. Running is a way to relax, keep in shape and clear my mind.” Running also gives him a way to generate money for worthy charities, as he did this past April by competing in a grueling, rain-soaked Boston Marathon, raising over $6,000 for Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts (see box on page 95). When running for charity, Timlin is responsible for gathering sponsors who agree to donate funds in his name, helping to bring attention to a specific cause. “I make individual donations all the time,” he says, “but this gets other people involved. And my wife’s family has a personal connection to people who have used Spaulding.”

Reignited Passion

He ran when he was in his twenties, often competing in races but never in marathons. He stopped running for a long time, then returned to it about five years ago. In 2014, he entered the Philadelphia Marathon on behalf of the American Cancer Society. “I was 56 at the time,” he says, “and I decided this was something I wanted to accomplish.” He completed the 26.2 miles, the standard marathon distance, in under four hours. Anthony Napolitano has been inspired by his Nature’s Plus colleague. “We’re all trying to get in shape here in the office, and he was the first to show it can be done, that you can make that lifestyle change. It’s amazing how he’s transformed. To see him running marathons is really incredible,” Napolitano says. Training for this year’s Boston Marathon was especially challenging, partly because Timlin had been traveling so much for work. In addition, the lingering winter weather often forced him to run indoors on treadmills. “Boston is hilly, and you have to be prepared for that,” he notes. “You need to start out slow, pace yourself at the beginning, or you’ll burn out and never finish. I also wanted to run in Boston because of this particular charity.”

Personal Connections

The sales manager’s wife, Amy, a former luger, and his sister-in-law, a former competitive figure skater, have two friends who have used the services of Spaulding. The hospital is part of a network of institutions that pioneer innovative treatments for disabling conditions, including spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries, stroke and such neuromuscular disorders as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and Parkinson’s disease. One acquaintance is still dealing with neurological issues, including paralysis. “Spaulding is giving her a new lease on life,” Timlin says. “This is a way for me to help a place that helps my wife’s friends.” Like other competitors, he refused to be intimidated by the memory of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Three weeks after the tragedy, he ran the 10-mile Broad Street Race in Philadelphia. “I thought about the bombing, but you can’t let it get to you. I trust the police and the other people handling security. Actually, a lot of people injured in the Boston bombing went to Spaulding for rehab.” About 30,000 men and women participate annually in the Boston Marathon, with one-fifth of the entry spots reserved for charities, local running clubs and other sponsorships. Spaulding, as an official charity of the Boston Marathon, has had a team each year since 2005, says Spaulding spokesperson Amanda Leigh Raven. “We had one runner that first year. Our biggest team was 100 people in 2014, following the bombing. This year we had 77 individuals,” says Raven. Nature’s Plus, with its policy of supporting the community and the volunteer efforts of its employees, added a substantial donation to the money Timlin himself raised. On April 16, the day of this year’s marathon, the weather was described as the worst in the history of the race: The temperature was in the 30s, the rain at times ramped up to the point of deluge, and there were 25 mph winds. About 1,200 runners, including 23 elite athletes, dropped out. “It was a struggle to get to the 15- mile mark,” says Timlin. “I thought I might not make it. But I was running for charity, and a lot of people had contributed money.” He thought ahead to the post-race celebration being held at the Mandarin Oriental, where his wife and 12-yearold son, Steven, would be, along with the friend who goes to Spaulding. “I just put one foot in front of the other and did what I had to do.” The determined marathoner finished the tough Boston course in just under six hours. “It was great to meet up with my family. My son was so proud. When he got back to school he told all his friends and all his teachers. After we met up, he wore the medal all the rest of the night.” Timlin has not yet introduced his son to running. “He plays baseball and basketball, but it’s not so good to run before you’re about 13. He wants to start running with me this summer, and I’m going to encourage him. We go bowling and to movies and ball games. Because I’m away a lot, when I’m here I like to spend time with him.”

Helping People Deal With Disabilities
Spaulding Hospital for Continuing Medical Care Cambridge is part of the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, which includes five inpatient facilities and 25 outpatient centers throughout eastern Massachusetts. According to the network’s mission statement, the organization is dedicated to improving “quality of life for persons recovering from, or learning to live fully with, illness, injury, and disability.” This includes addressing long-term health and function issues, “as well as giving patients encouragement and hope as they return to their lives in the community.” In addition to serving more than 32,000 patients each year, Spaulding conducts research into everything from appropriate therapies for children with cerebral palsy to exploring exercise as a way to protect seniors at a high risk of falling.

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