By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – Shrewsbury resident Sheila Gaffey recently ran the Boston Marathon – a virtual version, right in her hometown. The original date of the historic race was April 20 but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was rescheduled for Sept. 14 but, even then, it could not proceed.
Organizers regrouped and came up with a virtual format where participants could hold their own marathon within a one-week timeframe, Sept. 7 to 14.
The mother of three ran her marathon Sept. 12 and finished it in four hours and 28 minutes. She received a police escort from the center of Shrewsbury to her neighborhood off of Colonial Drive which took them over the 140/290 bridge currently under construction.
This was Gaffey’s second Boston Marathon run. Her first was in 2018 which she said was pretty miserable because of the weather. However, she noted that she was thrilled to have done it because she ran with the Boston Children’s Hospital Miles for Miracles Team.
“My son Andrew was a patient at Boston Children’s Hospital when he was born,” she explained. “That was in 2016 …We are so lucky. He is now well and healthy and a phenomenal little 4-year-old bursting with energy.”
She said that Andrew was diagnosed with “Failure to Thrive” and a reason was never determined. She also said that she had supported the hospital in the past but “when you walk through those doors as a patient, everything changes.”
After extensive testing, her son was put on a calorie intensive diet and he was able to gain the necessary weight needed and he has met all of his developmental benchmarks.
She and her husband Ryan already had two healthy daughters, Norah and Caleigh.
“It’s such an amazing place,” Gaffey remarked. “One of the things I really appreciated was in the grand scheme, it seemed like what he had going on paled in comparison to some of the other children there and the doctors never dismissed any of it.”
Gaffey has been a runner for many years. She was motivated to join the team initially because of the level of care for not only their patients, but also for their families. Their experience with the hospital was so positive she wanted to “pay it forward” in any way that she could and being a runner, she had always wanted to run the Boston Marathon.
After her first run she swore she would never do it again. However, she was proud of her accomplishment in finishing the race and raising $12,600.
“So, last year the Marathon came around and I was like, ‘I kind of wish I were doing this again’” she said. “I am able to and there are so many people that aren’t able to. I can do this, so why wouldn’t I?”
When she shared the news with her husband that she was planning on running in 2020 she explained that it is a way to keep giving back to the hospital and helping other families.
So far, Gaffey has raised $12,866. Her goal is $15,000 and she will continue to accept donations for the next several weeks. To support Gaffey, visit http://fundraise.childrenshospital.org/goto/SheilaEGaffey.