By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Northborough – Emily Hughes is a 2008 graduate from Algonquin Regional High School and a nurse at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI) in its Pediatric Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Department. On April 18, Hughes will be running the Boston Marathon with team Eye and Ear and, specifically, Team Operation Airway.
Operation Airway is a foundation created by doctors from both Mass. Eye and Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital that makes airway reconstructive surgery and post-operative care available to all children who cannot breathe or speak on their own.
“I work directly with these doctors on a daily basis and have been witness to the amazing life-changing surgeries that they can offer,” Hughes said.
Hughes describes herself as a casual runner who has always thought that running the Boston Marathon would be an amazing opportunity. It is, she said, a “bucket list” item. When a co-worker mentioned the idea of running the marathon as a sponsor for a child who has been an airway patient at the hospital, Hughes decided that it was time to take on the challenge.
“There is something different about a pediatric patient – their resilience to illness is inspiring and I have seen so many patients overcome so much,” said Hughes. “Any little bit that I can do to help continue to provide care to children all over the world is worth it. Not only am I inspired by the patients and the innovative medicine at MEEI, but the nurses I have worked with on the pediatric unit have been such a big role in my nursing career.”
After applying to Team Operation Airway – which included a lengthy application and an interview – Hughes found out right before Thanksgiving that she was officially accepted onto the team of 12. She began training right away.
“It has been tough training for the marathon, but when I am struggling through a long run I think about my patients and how they struggle with so much every day,” Hughes said. “The least I can do is run a few miles more.”
Hughes has a goal to raise $8,000 for Operation Airway. She runs, she said, for the children – until every child can breathe.
“Working as a nurse in pediatrics has changed my life,” said Hughes. “The children that I take care of are truly my heroes. I have taken care of many children who have illnesses affecting the way they speak, breathe and eat – things that come as a second nature to you and me – and, still, they somehow always put a smile on my face.”
To donate to Hughes’ fundraising efforts go to www.crowdrise.com/teameyeandear2016/fundraiser/emilyhughes5.