Saturday was a cloudy day at Omaha’s Lake Zorinsky, but the smiles of former patients, Madonna staff and community supporters shone brightly at the 4th annual Miles for Madonna 5k run/1-mile walk. More than 250 runners and walkers from the metro area and throughout the region laced up their tennis shoes to support the Saint Benedict Fund, which offers emergency financial support for Madonna patients. The race also included booths from sponsors and fun activities for little ones, including balloon artists and face painting.
Miles for Madonna has become a great way for former patients to reconnect with the staff members who helped them during their recovery journey. Nearly two dozen stroke survivors, individuals with spinal cord injury, brain injury survivors and pediatric patients reunited with their Madonna family to support current and future patients.
“Some of these individuals came to our hospital unable to talk, walk, some even on ventilators in a non-responsive state. To see those same people here, walking, running, smiling and working so hard to support our mission, that’s the ultimate reward,” said John Glenn, Madonna’s Vice President of Development.
One returning patient, McKinley Blue, brought a squad of friends and family along with her to support Madonna. Dressed in matching shirts printed with her rally cry #McKinleyStrong, the group was happy to be able to support the hospital where McKinley recovered from a traumatic brain injury just last summer.
“This is our first year that we were able to do this and we really wanted to grab some of our family and friends and have them join us. We love having McKinley just do all the exciting fun active things that she can do. So it was nice to be around people who understand what we’ve been through, the emotions that go through it, the joys, the hard times, all of it,” said McKinley’s mom, Jessica.
The winner of the 5k race was Jen Nelson of Omaha. Jen works for this year’s title sponsor, Scheels, is a true believer in the Madonna mission and wanted to support the life-changing work being done. “I love what you do for the community,” said Jen. “I think this is a great cause.”
Kirk Johnson, the men’s division winner, traveled from Topeka, Kansas, to support the event after seeing first-hand the positive impact Madonna had on his son’s rehabilitation journey. Kirk was beside his son Craig every step of the way as he recovered from a brain injury several years ago. The two men ran much of the race together, but Craig got a little turned around and ran a bit further than five kilometers, so the two decided to share the championship title. Craig, a software engineer at Garmin, joked that he of all people should be better with directions. “We are always proud of him and thankful for Madonna,” Kirk said.
Stay tuned for more exciting events and ways to support Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals and learn more about the Madonna Foundation and how your generosity can help provide world-class rehabilitation for patients.