By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Marlborough native Katie Jerdee has much in common with former New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi. They'se both athletes who suffered a stroke at an early age and were treated at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. More recently, they both ran April 28 in the Boston Marathon with Tedy's Team to raise awareness and funds.
“Being able to see someone like Tedy as an example has meant a lot in my recovery,” Jerdee said. “I hope to be that way to other people who, unfortunately, go through a stroke.”
After Jerdee graduated from Immaculate Conception School in 2001 and Marlborough High in 2005, she attended Northeastern University. While age 20 as a college sophomore in 2006, she was running with soccer teammates and suddenly lost control of her right arm and leg.
“I had no idea what was happening,” she recalled. “I waited on a bench while the other girls ran to the field to get my coach.”
When her coach and an ambulance arrived, Jerdee was transported to Brigham and Women's Hospital, where she spoke with her mother in Marlborough by phone.
“While I could still talk, I told my mom I was probably just dehydrated,” she said.
Her mother and sister, Hannah, drove immediately from Marlborough to Boston and they heard the diagnosis together.
“When I heard “stroke,” I thought that's what grandparents have,” she said “I asked my doctor if I's be able to walk and play soccer again. He said he didn's know, but younger people do recover better. He didn's guarantee anything except that it would be a lot of hard work going forward.”
After further testing, doctors determined that her stroke was linked to a hereditary clotting disorder.
Jerdee became aware of Bruschi and Tedy's Team while she was in rehabilitation.
“Tedy and I had a lot of the same doctors, so I was familiar with his story,” she said. “It was like my shining light down the road that I would be able to resume a normal life again.”
Soon after getting discharged from the hospital, Jerdee took her first step toward fundraising by participating in a heart walk.
“Walking was one of the few things that I could do – and only barely,” she said.
In 2008, Jerdee ran her first Boston Marathon with Tedy's Team, for which she has lots of memories.
“I was able to cross the finish line with my soccer coach from Northeastern, who was there when I had my stroke,” she said. “We both held hands and crossed the finish line together.”
Jerdee graduated from college in 2010, and lives and works in Boston. Since 2011, she has had another marathon running mate, her sister, Hannah.
On her web donation page that year, Jerdee wrote: “The role of family members of stroke victims is often left unnoticed. From the first person in the emergency room and supporting me through my months of rehab to running next to me in road races, Hannah has stuck through every step of the way.”
Though not their personal best, the sisters finished this year's Boston Marathon together.
“My sister had food poisoning the day before and I got really sick halfway through, but we both managed to finish, holding hands in five and a half hours,” Jerdee said. “I'se done seven marathons and I still say I's not a runner. I do it because it's a great cause with great teammates and great people out there cheering. Everyone's common goal with Tedy's Team is raising stroke awareness and funds.”