In early 2012, Jamaica Plain resident Krina Patel said she could barely run two miles. This April she will be running the Boston Marathon for the first time.
"In the space of 16 months, I have successfully completed a triathlon, three half marathons, a road race and two 5Ks," she said.
Her efforts to run in the Boston Marathon stem from volunteering with a Boston-based program meant to raise awareness of the unique health needs and care required for the thousands homeless people.
Born and raised in New Zealand, Patel, 32, will be running in support of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless program, with which she became involved through Boston Youth Healthcare Professionals, a nonprofit she cofounded that aims to provide a forum for young professionals in various healthcare fields. The organization has volunteered at BHCHP several times and through the volunteer efforts, Patel learned of the marathon program.
"It’s been tough training in this weather, but this pales in comparison to the plight of Massachusetts’ homeless women, men and children who face many daunting health care challenges," she said. "I’m thrilled to be running the 2014 Boston Marathon in such a symbolic year and to be raising funds for Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program that provides compassionate health care to the thousands of people who are homeless in our City for some period of time each year.”
The following runner's profile was provided by Krina Patel:
When did you start running and why?
Krina Patel: I ran when I was younger back in New Zealand, but I had taken almost a 20 year “hiatus”. In early 2012, I was inspired to get back in shape, but most of all I wanted to do something that would benefit my friend Sonia who had been diagnosed with Leukemia. Therefore, I signed up for the Hyannis Sprint Triathlon (swim, bike & run) to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through their Team in Training Program. Early in my training, time ran out for Sonia and she lost her battle with Leukemia in March 2012. Sonia was only 25. I was even more determined to train, fundraise and finish hard - all in Sonia’s honor. On June 9th, 2012 I successfully completed the triathlon and this encouraged me to continue with endurance events to improve my health and fitness, but most importantly, to raise money to improve the health of others. I knew the easiest component to train for in the triathlon was the running part. You didn't need a swimming pool or a road bike -- but just your running shoes. I then began focusing solely on running. Since the triathlon in 2012, I have completed three half marathons, a road race and two 5Ks. And, now I embark on my very first marathon! I also really enjoy running because it is the time in your day where you are completely alone. I do my best thinking when I am running, and it prepares me both mentally and physically to tackle the day. Now that I have started running frequently, I could not imagine my life without it!
What made you decide to join Team BHCHP?
KP: As a "health policy wonk", I strongly believe that everyone should have access to high quality medical care. And, as a civil society we must take care of our most vulnerable citizens. Being without a home and without health care can leave someone at their most vulnerable. While volunteering at BHCHP, I had the pleasure of interacting with patients, many of whom volunteered "their story". These patients had clearly endured a lot, and in my opinion, they are among the most deserving as is the Program which provides critical services to help these people thrive and get back on their feet. I also had the pleasure of meeting staff at BHCHP and was so touched by their dedication to their jobs. It was nice to know that these people did not give up on people who had probably been given up on before. It was also touching to know that their job did not end after a medical diagnosis was made or treatment was provided, and that all of the needs of the patient were taken into account by the “team” -- whether it be medical, dental, behavioral, nutritional, substance abuse counseling or social services. I also love the fact that the patients have an opportunity to participate in fun programs with BHCHP staff and patients – things that can put a smile on their face and be part of the healing process.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
KP: One of my proudest accomplishments is co-founding Boston Young Healthcare Professionals, a volunteer-run 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides a forum for young professionals in various healthcare fields to develop meaningful cross-sector knowledge and relationships and to use their career to positively impact the community. It is amazing to see how the organization has grown and what we’ve been able to accomplish with a great network of people dedicated to improving health care. We have volunteered at BHCHP several times and conducted a sock drive. Some of my other proudest accomplishments include climbing Mt. Washington and passing the Bar exam!
What are your hobbies?
KP: Running, cooking international cuisine, community service, outdoor activities like hiking and white water rafting, advocacy on social issues I feel passionately about, exploring other countries and their culture
Q: If you had to describe yourself in one word, what would it be?
Who will be cheering for you at the finish line?
KP: My fiancée, Redi Kasollja, will be cheering for me at the finish line. I also have a large group of friends that will likely be convening at an apartment on Beacon Street (about two miles from the finish line) to give me extra encouragement as I get close to the end. I am hoping my family can make it to Boston as well.
What does "we run together" mean to you?
KP: It means that none of the Team BHCHP members are running by themselves or for themselves. We have the backing of each other, the amazing BHCHP staff and ALL of the supporters of BHCHP. As part of Team BHCHP, we share the same goal – to complete the 2014 Boston Marathon. But, most importantly, we are united in that we are running to support BHCHP so they can continue to help improve the health and the lives of homeless adults and children in the community.