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UMass nurse runs Boston Marathon to raise money for ALS

By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer

Thin Aung is an avid runner who completed the Worcester Running Festival half-marathon. (Photo/submitted)

Thin Aung is an avid runner who completed the Worcester Running Festival half-marathon. (Photo/submitted)

Shrewsbury – Thin Aung, 30, is a registered nurse at UMass Medical Center, University Campus. It is what she refers to as her “dream job.” She works the overnight shift in the medical intensive care unit where she takes care of patients with both rare and common diseases. It is here that Aung has come to know her patients and their families on a personal level – sometimes sharing experiences that have made a lasting impression on her. One such experience with a patient with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) motivated Aung, an avid runner, to do more to help. On Monday, April 20, she will run the Boston Marathon for the UMass ALS Cellucci Fund.

Aung, a 2003 graduate of Shrewsbury High School, earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology with minors in chemistry and psychology from UMass Amherst. After graduating and working for two years as a laboratory technician at Charles River Laboratories, she changed her career path to nursing and, in 2012, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from MCPHS University.

For Aung, who has never run a marathon, running has become a passion – although this was not always the case.

“Running was always my weakness,” she said. “I was involved in volleyball and crew in high school. I remember struggling to run a mile. I was overweight in my teen years, and in my late twenties, I made my health a priority. Now running is my passion. It’s liberating and challenges me not only physically, but mentally.”

After going to Boston to watch the marathon last year for the first time, Aung was moved and inspired by all of the runners and spectators. As she stood there watching the athletes as they ran toward the finish line she knew that she wanted to be a part of the experience and she made it her goal to run in the 2015 Boston Marathon.

Aung, who ran a half-marathon at the Worcester Running Festival in 2014, has never run a full marathon.

Once receiving the news that she would be running for UMass ALS Cellucci Fund, Aung began a structured training schedule. She reached out to previous marathon runners for training advice and has been using the RunKeeper phone app to track her workouts and motivate her to hit her fitness goals. On Jan. 25, Aung will be transitioning over to the Central Mass Striders marathon training program designed by Coach Al Halper. As part of the program, runners meet every Sunday (up to Marathon Monday) at Worcester State University and train together.

“Training has been hard in the winter because of the cold and snow, but I keep my mind on the end goal and that keeps me motivated,” said Aung. “I am running for those who cannot.”

Aung hopes to add to the awareness and funds that the Ice Bucket Challenge brought to ALS last year. Her goal is to raise $8,000 – money that will be used to help fund research by UMass Medical School and Dr. Robert Brown, one of the leading researchers in discovering more about ALS and treating the disease.

As one who has overcome obstacles in her own life and seen her patients face and battle their own, Aung is no stranger to adversity.

“My motto in life,” she said, “is to make weaknesses into strengths and never give up in the pursuit of it.”

Short URL: http://www.communityadvocate.com/?p=58702

Posted by on Jan 31 2015. Filed under Byline Stories, People and Places, Shrewsbury. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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