Jenn Devlin always knew she wanted to find a way to honor Boston Children’s Hospital for the care shown to her family when her daughter and son, born a year apart, both needed medical attention early in their lives.
A decade later, the Hopkinton resident found a way to pay tribute and help the hospital while also fulfilling a “flickering and seemingly far-fetched dream of running a marathon.” She joined the Miles for Miracles fundraising team and ran her first Boston, finishing in a time of 4 hours, 48 minutes.
“Sporting their ‘Stronger. Tougher. Braver.’ blue Miles for Miracles shirts, I was able to hug my strong, tough, brave and healthy children at the starting line, at Mile 13, Mile 20 and at the finish line thanks to my husband, sister and aunt,” Devlin said. “The Miles for Miracles shirts lined the course as hundreds of families and children came out to support their runners. Always in the back of my mind, though, were the families and children whose battle with health kept them from joining the cheering crowds, and those families whose heartbreaking experiences were shared as tributes and dedications at each and every Boston Children’s Hospital Marathon Team training run.”
Devlin said being able to see her family multiple times along the course was “the best part,” especially seeing them as she closed in on the finish.
“As I made that right on Hereford [Street], all I could think about was, Were they able to make it from [Heartbreak Hill] to the finish?” she said. “I took that left on Boylston, finish line in sight, and immediately saw my kids, my husband, my sister and aunt going crazy. It was one of those slow-motion moments when the enormity of this spectacular event and all these incredibly special people in my life came together. I threw my hands up and blew them a kiss, then attempted to kicked it up a notch to get to the line — though to be honest, it was probably more of a ‘bounce-walk’ by then. My hope was to finish in less than five hours — definitely not blazing speed — and I came in at 4:48, which was a win in my book.”
Devlin set a goal of raising $10,000, and she was closing in on that total — but still seeking donations (fundraise.childrenshospital.org/goto/jDevlin) — before the fundraising deadline of May 15. In addition to funding research and treatment programs, the money will help provide care for children whose families cannot afford it.
Devlin said it’s an important lesson for her kids.
“My husband, Jason, and I have always believed in teaching our children the importance of giving back to the community in whatever small ways we can,” she said. “We both coach with Hopkinton Youth Soccer and volunteer with the HPTA, I am on the School Committee, and he is active in the Boy Scouts. But to give back to the hospital that took care of the two most important people in our lives, well, we are all too aware of how lucky we are, and we know there are far too many families who are not as fortunate.”
Looking ahead, Devlin said it’s too early to decide if she’ll give the race another try.
“As far as running the marathon again, I kind of equate it to childbirth: I can’t answer that question for at least six months. By then I’ll forget how much it hurt, and maybe I’ll consider it,” she joked.