Wednesday, November 27, 2019

In Thanksgiving....

As I climbed the stairs to my office after a busy morning of baking and preparing sides for tomorrow's Thanksgiving Dinner, my breath caught. Thirteen years ago I clung to the banister for dear life as my weakened muscles and withering spirit were crying out for healing.

I was in the dark night of my soul being worked up for any number of possible diagnoses but in the end, I was given the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease.

I prayed and I cried. I knew in my gut that I was at a crossroads in my life.

By January, the diagnosis was confirmed and I went back into a toe up leg brace and used a cane and at times a wheelchair for mobility. I was told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair.

I got still and asked for Divine Guidance. It came in the form of a poem, "Running the Race" followed by many many many poems in which I imagined myself free in my body, running and dancing in the rain, whole and healed from my past of paralytic polio and a childhood rife with violence.

I remember when:
I couldn't climb the stairs in my house and was told to adapt my home or move to a ranch.
I had to take a dry swallow and chin tuck when I ate unable to hold a conversation during meals, and drink liquids through a straw.
I had to take several time outs during the day to rest and meditate due to chronic fatigue and pain all over.
I couldn't do grocery shopping, use public transportation, do the laundry and everything was an effort.
I couldn't enjoy the change in seasons, go for a walk, maintain body warmth in winter and overheat in summer.
We white knuckled our finances because I took a leap of faith leaving my career and salary to heal my life.

As I wrote poetry, went through intensive outpatient treatment at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital followed by working with a personal trainer, my life transformed.

I keep a gratitude journal and every day I write down what I am grateful for. I thank my body for all it allows me to do and for the miracle of healing in my life.

I went from clutching the staircase in my home to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond harnessing the power of the mind/body connection and my fiery spirit to go beyond limits.

We live an abundant life physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially. I am blessed to workout and/or run 5 days a week.

Since the diagnosis, I appreciate and cherish my blessings great and small:

It was not that long ago that I prayed for the things I now have in my life.

In Thanksgiving...I am so deeply grateful and blessed.

Happy Thanksgiving from my heart to yours.
With love,

You can read all about my journey of transformation from the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond in my Trilogy of Transformation available on Amazon and feel the heal in my anthology of inspirational poetry.

I was featured in a Wellness Warrior blog by Meghan Khalei of Lovely Bones Physical Therapy. To read the blog follow this link.

Be sure to visit my website at to learn more about my inspirational journey and for healing resources.

Kendra Petrone and I talked about my healing journey before the 2019 Boston Marathon on her award winning Exceptional Women Show. Listen by following this link.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

The Magic on Heartbreak Hill

It was another grey and chilly day in November in Boston. Tom and Ruth Anne are training for the Bill Rodgers Somerville Jingle Bell 5K happening in a few weeks. I'm in my off season and continue to recover from a fall I had in late September.

"Why don't we go to Heartbreak Hill?" I suggested for our Sunday morning run.

It was a unanimous "Yes" from Team McManus.

From "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953:"
Two weeks before our first run on Heartbreak Hill, we returned from Puerto Rico, after a brief hiatus from the never ending brutal New England cold weather. On the plane ride home, we met Tom Kelley and his wife, Dottie. We shared the story of Team McManus not knowing the names of the people with whom we shared pleasant conversation to pass the time on the flight back to a snowstorm in Boston.

“Hi there…my name is Tom Kelley. My uncle was Johnny Kelley.”

“I’m Dottie.” “It’s so nice to meet you.”

“Johnny Kelley” I thought to myself. “As in the Johnny Kelley. Olympian and Boston Marathon champion through the decades?!”

Dottie shared with me that Tommy lives with Parkinson’s Disease but he keeps on running as best he can. Running is his therapy. She asked for our mailing address. They had something they wanted to send to us. I had goosebumps all over.

As we parted ways heading to baggage claim, Dottie said, ‘Good luck with the rest of your training! Come see us at the Expo at Packet Pick up. Remember, Johnny will be watching over you.”

“Thank you. Get home safely and we’ll definitely come see you at Packet Pick Up. You sure made my day!” I said with a broad smile and a full heart.

A week later a package came in the mail with a note written in Dottie’s perfect cursive handwriting dictated by Tommy:

This is a poster created by Adidas for the 2004 BAA Marathon. I had Johnny sign a few when we roomed together at the Copley Plaza that week, and I know he would have gladly signed one for your family if he were here. Perhaps it will inspire you to run a good race, especially the last 6 miles. Johnny was an inspiration to many of us amateur runners and he lives on in the memories of countless runners. You can get a copy of his book Young at Heart on Amazon I believe. You'll note that his forefathers came over to the USA on the SS Marathon!!! Keep on running as I do. We loved your website and maybe some day we can meet again.

I always feel Johnny's presence on Heartbreak Hill, especially when we are running the part of Heartbreak Hill that has his statue:

There were a few runners out on Heartbreak Hill. It's the calm before the storm when runners training for the 2020 Boston Marathon will be out running in droves.

I enjoyed the quiet and solitude and thought back to our 2009 Boston Marathon run.

From 'The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953':
After turning from Route 16 to Commonwealth Avenue, I looked for my friends, the Reillys in front of the famous fire station. I thought that perhaps with the cold and wind and their two little ones, they needed to go home. Shortly after we turned onto Commonwealth Avenue to begin our ascent through the famed hills, Sharon called me on my cell phone. Everyone on Twitter was frantic because we could not be tracked. As one of my dear friends, Nicole Shuman said, God works in creative ways. Sharon got on Twitter and messaged my friend Nicole to let her know we were almost at mile 20 and going strong.

At mile 20, we saw Domenick just as he had promised us. He had tears in his eyes as he embraced Team McManus.

He put his hands on my shoulders and said, “You're gonna qualify - go finish. I'm so proud of you.”

In 2009 if you ran the Boston Marathon in under 8 hours as a mobility impaired runner, you qualified to run Boston again.

My cell phone rang. It was Janine checking in with us. As I saw her in the distance standing atop one of the inclines on Heartbreak Hill with her Spaulding Rehab t-shirt and a white long sleeve shirt underneath, I saw an angel who was going to take us to the finish line.

“I’m amazed at how great you guys look,” she said.

“We went out slowly and ran steady so we could finish. But I’m sorry about the pace….”

She cut me off and said, “Did you know that the guy who won last year had to be taken off the course? You need to leave those thoughts and all of your baggage out on the roads. Just look at how great you are doing!”

At Cleveland Circle, my son, and Johannes Hirnes, a BU photojournalism grad student were patiently waiting for us to come down Chestnut Hill Avenue. Johannes was given the assignment to capture someone’s Boston Marathon journey. He inquired at Brookline Marathon Sports if they knew of anyone who would make a good story and they told him about us. He followed us on our last training run and throughout the day on Marathon Monday.

As we crossed to the Dunkin' Donuts on Beacon Street, our neighbors were waiting with a sign to cheer us on to the finish.

From "Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life:"

Ode to Marathon Training

Blisters, black toes, aches and pains, a change in my routine
Long training runs, the hills, the sprints running clothes fresh and clean.
Carbo load and plan each meal power gels and gatorade
no matter what the weather no time to be afraid.
Humid - hot or freezing cold snow against the face
wind or sun or raining those running shoes I must lace.
What mile is this how long we been out check heart rate drink H20
meltdowns joys and triumphs only a few more weeks to go.
Heartbreak Hill won't break my heart this year has been the best
found myself and made new friends I feel incredibly blessed.

Tom and Ruth Anne drew me out of my reverie as they caught up with me on their tempo run. I was thrilled we met up just before the Johnny Kelly statue so we could take our selfie:

We all agreed that Sunday's run was the best run we had in a very long time. They were exhilarated, as I was, remembering our training runs on Heartbreak Hill and the exhilaration of taking that turn onto Commonwealth Avenue on Marathon Monday.

We look forward to many more runs there this Winter and Spring. As the sun shines brightly through the bare trees, there is a warmth that blankets Heartbreak Hill. It is my favorite spot to watch the seasons transform from Winter to Spring and to feel the rush of anticipation for the 2020 Boston Marathon.

There IS magic on Heartbreak Hill.

To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours

You can read all about my journey of transformation from the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond in my Trilogy of Transformation available on Amazon and feel the heal in my anthology of inspirational poetry.

Be sure to visit my website at to learn more about my inspirational journey and for healing resources.

Kendra Petrone and I talked about my healing journey before the 2019 Boston Marathon on her award winning Exceptional Women Show. Listen by following this link.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Running is...

Thirteen years ago I could barely climb the stairs in my house, experienced chronic fatigue and pain, and had no idea what was going on with me mind, body and soul. The limp from when I contracted paralytic polio at the age of 5 returned. I felt as though my life was spiraling out of control despite being at the top of my career as an award winning social worker at the VA.

I found the courage to google Post Polio Syndrome and reached out to the International Rehab Center for Polio and Post-Polio at Spaulding Rehab. I underwent a series of tests since Post-Polio Syndrome is a diagnosis of exclusion. In December the diagnosis was confirmed and in January of 2007 I met a physical therapist who was an angel in my life. She believed in the body's tremendous capacity to heal and told me that I was NOT destined to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair as the medical community understood would happen with Post-Polio Syndrome at the time.

In October of 2007 I was led to another earth angel, personal trainer Janine Hightower, who quoted Henry Ford. "Whether you think you can or you think you can't you're right."

I thought that I could run the 2009 Boston Marathon despite never having run a day in my life! She agreed and in April of 2008 I discovered the sport of running.

Running is so much more than lacing up a pair of shoes and going outside to put in miles.

Running is a way to leave stress behind:

Running is a great way to forge friendships that last through the decades:

We celebrate our triumphs and uplift each other through the inevitable trials and tribulations of life.

Running is my therapy that fueled my journey of transformation from being a survivor of paralytic polio to a woman who discovered her strength, resilience and beauty on the roads and in my life:

Running is getting up early to have together time unplugged savoring the seasons in New England even on a gray foggy day:

Running is a way to challenge myself and exceed all limitations opening the door to possibilities having comeback after comeback:

Running is a way to move forward on the roads and in life:

Running is a magnificent way to be a part of a larger community:

and is a way to be celebrated as though you finished first even though you're last:

Running is a way to experience magic:

The obsession with running is, as Dr. George Sheehan said:

Running is finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow-a spectacular scene from one of our early morning runs a few weeks ago:

Running fill in the blank!

You can read all about my journey of transformation from the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond in my Trilogy of Transformation available on Amazon and feel the heal in my anthology of inspirational poetry.

To your health and wellness - from my heart to yours

Be sure to visit my website at to learn more about my inspirational journey and for healing resources.

Kendra Petrone and I talked about my healing journey before the 2019 Boston Marathon on her award winning Exceptional Women Show. Listen by following this link.

Monday, November 11, 2019

It's a Sign - Camp Hyannis 2020

From "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953":

That’s Why We Are the Greatest Sport Camp Hyannis 2016

“It’s a sign!” a group of runners exclaimed as they walked by my table at the Hyannis Race Expo.

They picked up my medal from the Bermuda Half Marathon.

“We were just talking about how we have to run Bermuda. We are putting it on our bucket list.”

The Mystic Runners from Wakefield, Massachusetts were deeply moved by my inspirational journey. In that moment of synchronicity, we became fast friends.

Paulie has been gracious and generous to offer me a table at the Expo to sell my books and inspire runners with my journey. The 2015 weekend was cancelled. It was a tough decision for any race director to make but treacherous weather conditions would have compromised the safety of the runners. I didn’t give a second thought about having a table at the 2016 Expo. I was running the 10K and planned to focus my energies on the race.

A friend messaged me on Facebook. “I’m so excited you have a table at the Expo this year. I saw your name on the table. Can’t wait to see you!”

I grabbed my Hyannis Half Marathon medal, my Boston Marathon finisher photo and medal, the few books I had on hand and my business cards. At the last minute, I put my Bermuda Half Marathon finisher medal in the box...

The other day on Facebook, MaryBeth, the Mystic who I met in 2016 posted this as her status:
Damn them. I’m being talked into another race. Well, actually, they were just discussing one. It’s always Michelle Marchese Corrado who starts these things. I was surprised to learn that I’ve only run 9 half marathons. I must have lost some medals.....

"Which one? I vote for Hyannis," I replied.

MaryBeth replied, "It IS Hyannis!"

"I just got goosebumps...I am going to be one of the guest speakers this year!" I said.

"Mary McManus well, there’s my sign. We’ll be there!..."Hey, that rhymes! Mary McManus, it is Hyannis. Another sign."

Hyannis Marathon Weekend
holds so many incredible memories for me.

We call it Camp Hyannis! All of our Camp Hyannis Adventures are included in The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953."

Here are a few cherished memories of our Camp Hyannis times:

I ran my first Half Marathon at Hyannis on the road to the 2009 Boston Marathon. I was embraced by the running community and running greats Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter. I've been blessed to meet Jacqueline Hansen, who also wrote the Foreword to "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance," the 2nd book in my Trilogy of Transformation. Jack Fultz, Team Hoyt, Dick Beardsley and Jimmy Garcia are a few of the other running greats we mixed and mingled with through the years.

Friendships have been forged and sustained through the decades at Camp Hyannis.

I am deeply honored and over the moon excited to be a guest speaker this year at the Pre-Race Pasta Dinner. I was inspired to reach out to Paul Collyer, aka Paulie who is the Mastermind behind Camp Hyannis weekend if he would like me to be a guest speaker at Hyannis Marathon Weekend 2020.

His reply was, "You would be welcome to speak to crowd...I believe I will also have steve jones and bill in house.
Please send a brief "promo"."

Tom and Ruth Anne are going to run the 10K.

I'll be sharing my inspirational story once again at the Expo and address the "crowd" gathered at the Pre-Race Pasta Dinner.

We'll experience the joy of reunion with our running family, celebrate healing, health and wellness and be open to whatever synchronicity and serendipity happen at Camp Hyannis 2020.

To register for Hyannis Marathon Weekend, follow this link.

See you at the starting line!

To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours

Be sure to visit my website at

Hear my interview with Kendra Petrone on Magic 106.7's Exceptional Women Show by following this link

My books are available on Amazon

Friday, November 8, 2019

The Missing Puzzle Piece

Facebook reminded me of this post from one year ago:
It's been quite a day. I must say that on the whole grace is greater than the unbelievable situations I encountered today. I remembered to maintain equanimity in the face of a**holes and that there are so many wonderful people in our village and in the Brookline community. A huge shout out of gratitude to our Emergency Responders Brookline MA Police Department who once again responded with compassion to Ruth Anne's crisis that required hospitalization. For those of you counting that's #5 since February. Her new DMH worker seems wonderful and I am hoping that DMH will step up to the plate especially after alleged inappropriate behavior by her previous worker who also was incredibly ineffective in his role. But I am also hoping that Ruth Anne will step up to the plate and do the work necessary for recovery. I am praying that the Team will change meds to give her relief and give her the boost she needs so she can do the work. I am exhausted after cleaning and laundry and many many phone calls today and continuing to ensure that her interests are protected but I feel so blessed and grateful for all the amazing people that I DID encounter today. Thank you ALL for your love and prayers. Please keep them coming. She is on 5W at St. Elizabeth's in Brighton.
Time for a good dinner, a hot shower and unwinding time.

There would be many more crises and 9 more hospitalizations until I found the missing puzzle piece in August of this year.

When Ruth Anne first entered the world of psychiatric hospitalizations, the OT's recommended that we do jigsaw puzzles to help with anxiety and to ease her off of her compulsion to go on the internet that triggered a worsening of psychiatric symptoms.

For 2 of the several puzzles we worked on, we were missing the last piece.

One piece we found under the sofa stuck in the radiator.

Despite turning the house upside down, we could not find the other puzzle piece.

One day we were cleaning out our car and lo and behold, there it was!

I taped it to my journal that we bought from Dr. Joe Dispenza's store.

It was a reminder to stay connected to the Divine even in the situations where there seemed to be no hope. Appearances, as I have learned throughout my healing journey, are not what they seem.

We rode the waves of crisis after crisis. We prayed and asked our friends for prayers. We wanted relief for Ruth Anne and for us.

I met Anthony Espina years ago at a Christmas Fair in Boston. He was here with his mother to explore Berklee College of Music. He didn't get accepted and will be the first to tell you that it was the greatest blessing in his life. He posted on Facebook that he was proud and honored to have written the score for the movie, "My Kid is Not Crazy." You can listen to the compelling and moving score on his website.

Our dear friends posted about their 6 year old daughter who was experiencing alarming symptoms of behavior change, restricted eating, not being able to put on clothes and a radical personality change. She was diagnosed with PANS.

Ruth Anne was complaining of symptoms of UTI's and an ear infection at different times throughout the course of those months of hell but, because of her dire psychiatric symptoms, no one was paying attention to working up possible physical causes for her condition.

And then a light bulb went off for me.

I remembered Ruth Anne's history of strep and chronic infections and how, at the age of 6, after having her adenoids removed and having had tubes in her ears, her kindergarten teacher asked me what happened to Ruth Anne. She had difficulty paying attention and would "space out" and her once outgoing, fun loving personality seemed to all but disappear.

We were blessed with a first grade teacher who took great pains to help her learn how to read and we hired a tutor.

At her third grade parent-teacher conference, her teacher welled up with emotion as she showed us samples of Ruth Anne's work. She wrote in yellow crayon all over the page in barely legible handwriting. She was upset she did not know about Ruth Anne's history of hearing loss which had been corrected with surgery or her struggles in earlier grades. We had Ruth Anne tested and placed on a 504 ed plan. She was diagnosed with ADD and Ritalin was recommended. We don't know what we don't know. The Ritalin fueled the fires of her food restriction that occurred after strep and pneumonia. She underwent testing at MGH, taken off Ritalin, diagnosed with GERD and placed on high doses of prilosec. An earth angel of a teacher, an Occupational Therapist and a few wonderful special education teachers helped her to graduate high school.

Things seemed to quiet down as she received an Associates Degree from Bunker Hill Community College with help from on campus tutors and support from me at home. She went into a deep depression when her plans to move to California fell apart after graduation from BHCC.

She decided she would go to Middle Tennessee State University, get in state tuition, work and go to school and follow her passion in the Country Music industry. She struggled through the days and would ask for plane tickets to come home and to Face Time with us on a daily basis. She got painfully thin and became obsessed with yoga and exercise. Yet somehow she managed to make it through and graduate with high honors.

When she returned home, the proverbial wheels fell off the wagon and two years after she came home the cycle of hospitalizations, med trials and error with mostly error and wondering what was going on began.

With this last siege of crises and the Universe pinging me about PANS, I did my research. I reached out to her primary care provider who promised me he would do a work up for the UTI's and would consider the possibility of long term antibiotics. He shared my hypothesis with her psychiatrist.

On September 6th, after her 14th and final hospitalization, her urine had an exceptionally high white blood cell count. Despite a negative culture, her PCP started her on high doses of antibiotics. I started her on ibuprofen 3X/day and adjusted her psych meds based on her presentation post discharge. St. Elizabeth's discharged her without doing the urine culture as I requested and she was not on a therapeutic level of her meds.

After a week and a consultation with a urogynecologist, and staying off of the internet which is a trigger for hallucinations and psychiatric symptoms given the brain inflammation, she began to clear. We hit a speed bump when she went back on the internet and had a therapist who was enabling her and allowing her to keep her behaviors secret which is all a part of OCD and PANS. Ruth Anne finally told us what happened. We fired the therapist, the Department of Mental Health worker and the social worker from the police department all of whom were unhelpful because they did not understand PANS and were creating conflict within Ruth Anne.

When I accompanied her to her appointment with her psychiatrist, she told him she was doing much better.

"That's a blessing," he said and asked what else he could do to help.

He made sure she has a new therapist and that a referral to Occupational Therapy was in place. He put in for med refills and said that if there's anything we need to reach out to him. He also told us that he never believed the diagnoses of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder but could not figure out what was going on. He treated me with great professional courtesy and Ruth Anne with the dignity and integrity she deserved all along.

She is running again although it is slow going as she begins the marathon of healing mind, body and soul.

She'll be running the Somerville Jingle Bell Run 5K and the Hyannis 10K with Tom both BA Event Promotions events that welcome all paces for their races.

She volunteers and for the first time in 5 years believes she has a future although she is keenly aware of the toll PANS has taken on her brain.

We take it one day at a time giving thanks and feeling blessed for when things go smoothly and take deep breaths as we get through the tough miles that come with PANS.

Ruth Anne has a long road ahead but she is past the starting line of this marathon of healing now that we have found the missing puzzle piece.

Ruth Anne has given me permission to share her journey with the hope that it can help someone else!

To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours

Be sure to visit my website at

Hear my interview with Kendra Petrone on Magic 106.7's Exceptional Women Show by following this link

My books are available on Amazon

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

#LaCosteStrong Update - Don't Give Up! - All You Need is Love

On September 18th, I wrote a blog, "#LaCoste Strong - A Community of Love, Kindness and Big Hearts" featuring how a community came together to support Kevin and Ali LaCoste and their beautiful family following a fall that led to a traumatic spinal cord injury.

I feel goosebumps all over as I share this update with you.

On September 28th over 1100 people gathered for the 6th Annual Middlemiss Big Heart 5K. A portion of the proceeds went to their first ever race beneficiary, The LaCoste family.

There was not a dry eye on the field as Kevin addressed the crowd over the loud speaker:

"I'm a little sad I can't join you but next year I will definitely be there to celebrate Joseph and all the beautiful things he has done to inspire us even in his short life. Today... today while you're out there think about something you're grateful for and find a way to do some small kind act this week. Not only do the kind act but really think about how it made someone feel and think about how it made you feel as well. I hope everyone has a great day today and most importantly if you see Jack Middlemiss tell him I'm looking to kick his butt when I get home."

That last comment about Jack was in reference to a Q and A Ali had back on September 20th in which we were able to ask Kevin both light hearted and serious questions. Ali limited the questions to 10 but just had to include a Bonus Question from Jack:
11. Bonus Question!!!!! What are you going to do when I come to Spaulding and kick your butt? (Jack Middlemiss)

Kevin: I’m going to ride circles around you in my wheelchair until you get dizzy, then I’ll push you down, and kick your butt!!!! Do you want to piece of me? Or the whole thing?

I was blessed to accompany Ali and Kevin to the Abilities Expo on September 13th. Kevin and Ali had the opportunity to explore resources and equipment that would improve their quality of life as Kevin recovers from his injury.

As Kevin readied for discharge from Spaulding, Ali posted this about their new van:

Because of the wonderful people in our lives, Kevin and I were able to purchase a vehicle that will allow us to have the freedom of a “typical” family. Though the idea of driving a “mom-van” has never thrilled me, this car is completely awesome. The front seat pops right out, so that Kevin can ride up front where he belongs.

When he tried it out today, he navigated in and out of the car with such ease. He’s already a pro at figuring out this new challenge of his!

For those who have donated, fundraised, bought a t-shirt etc. Thank you. You took so much stress away from the pain of car-buying. You’re allowing me to help transport my husband in style.

The day everyone was waiting for happened on October 12th. Kevin was discharged from Spaulding Rehab Hospital after spending 83 days away from his home.

All the money was raised and crews worked tirelessly around the clock to make sure that Kevin would return home to a house that was accessible for him.

You & Me: We got this. That’s the sign that Kevin and I walked in to see in our beautiful new bedroom this past Saturday. I’ve repeated this statement to Kevin and to myself countless times over the past 3 days. I’ve wanted to reach out to you all and tell you that everything has been great. That our transition was seamless and it’s been easy. I’ve wanted to tell you that I’ve been an amazing caretaker and Kevin couldn’t be in better hands.... but I’ve been honest with all of you from the beginning, so I’m not going to start sugarcoating things now.

Saturday we came home to our dream home. Love and kindness radiated from every part. Signs lined the streets- made by the children who Kevin has influenced in some positive way. We were driving our new car that fundraisers helped us purchase. We were accompanied by my sister in law Lori LaCoste O'Donnell and brother in law Craig O'Donnell- who wouldn’t have let us travel that road alone. We came home to our excited children and my parents (Gail Buccini). We were joined by Kevin’s mom(Brenda Taylor LaCoste). There was so much love- along with a mix of emotions- fear, sadness, happiness, and uncertainty.

On this day of our return, when Kevin exited our car, he went in the opposite direction- away from the house. I had no idea what he was doing. He went onto the road and stopped in front of the tree where the accident happened. He paused for a while, released some tears and reflected on the fleeting moment in time when he was trying to be a silly dad and it all went wrong. And then he rolled into his new beautifully accessible home- with deck and patio to boot.... and shed some more tears, for a different reason this time.

The few days we’ve been here have been completely overwhelming. But with each day we know things will get easier and more routine. We know that in times of need, we have a HUGE army of supporters. And in due time, we’ll be calling on all of you to check in on and visit us. ❤️💜❤️

I can’t say that things will be perfect or that we’ll know what to do with every twist and turn.

What I can say with an open heart and true belief is that Kevin and I do “got this!” There is so much love in our home and surrounding us from all aspects of our lives. All four of us sleeping under one roof is a dream come true- no matter the circumstance.

Ali posted wonderful photos of the family experiencing watching their son's Saturday Flag Football and Baseball games:

They went to a friend's house to watch Patriots Football:

Right after Kevin’s accident I often thought of how was I ever going to be strong enough to get through this. I knew that I needed support, so I did some online research and found a few Facebook support groups. I quickly joined them and read the experiences others have handled- and tried to imagine the tumultuous road that we were destined to travel.

Most upsetting about some of these posts was that many complained that their friends and families abandoned them in their time of need. Now, I understand that every story is different and people handle problems in their own ways, but I couldn’t help but feel heartbroken. And I also felt so fortunate that I knew that would never happen to us.

Tonight, my feelings were affirmed. We had friends who sought us out, made sure they had space that Kevin could get to and had us over for a “normal” Patriots game viewing. The room was cozy, the fire blazing (which is good because Kevin is so often cold). We had munchies, beverages, and good conversations. Jonathan Ash and Colleen Donohoe Ash have proven to be true friends and in this new world we’re navigating we need them now more than ever. ❤️

It goes without saying that Lori LaCoste O'Donnell and Craig O'Donnell are also in it for the long haul. But we’re pretty happy that they’ve been hanging around a lot too. 😘

They were reunited with Kevin's inpatient team at MGH ICU, some of whom had never heard Kevin's voice because of the tracheotomy, when they went for a follow up visit with Kevin's surgical team:

Lisa Hughes and David Wade did a follow up story on WBZ that you can watch with a box of tissues by following this link.

Kevin Staffin exceeded his goal of $3000 to raise money for his dear friend Kevin and had to man up to his part of the deal that if he reached his fundraising goal (and he raised $3781) before he ran the New York City Marathon then he'd have to don Red Sox gear and make it his Facebook profile picture for at least a week! Kevin S. is a die hard Yankees fan.

Here is his finish photo from the Marathon which he dedicated to Kevin (notice the red socks):

And then on 10/31, we saw a Facebook post that brought goosebumps and tears:
Dear Robinson Families,

We are so happy to announce that, tomorrow morning, Mr. LaCoste will be coming to the Robinson School for a visit. We will come together as a school community in the cafeteria, and Mr. LaCoste will read us all a fun story and talk about the different SPIRIT core values the story addresses. We all look forward to spending some time with Mr. LaCoste!

Students are encouraged to wear a "LaCoste Strong" shirt, or a blue/gray-colored shirt, for this special visit.

This will, hopefully, be the first of many visits from our beloved principal.

I had a feeling it was no coincidence that Kevin was returning to his school on the day that Andy Grammer was going to be in Boston for the last concert of his Don't Give Up Tour.

Kevin's Army as we have come to be known flooded Twitter and Instagram with messages to Andy Grammer about why he should connect with Kevin while in Boston. With the help of angels both on earth and in heaven, including Erin O'Malley Mandeville of Boston's Mix 104.1, Andy Grammer sent this message out to Kevin and the Robinson School:

Here's the full video of Kevin's return to his school. I highly recommend you watch the entire video and feel the love surrounding but if you fast forward to 7:43, you'll see the kids singing Don't Give Up on Me to Kevin and then the surprise video from Andy Grammer:

Life happens. Tragedy strikes. Somehow with gratitude and faith, kindness and a village surrounding we don't give up and make it through.

All you need is love and as we follow the journey of #lacostestrong we see that theme resurface time and time again.

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To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours

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