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Marathon Mom

Bonnie and Mark with their sons, Trevor and Declan.

Bonnie and Mark with their sons, Trevor and Declan.

By: Stephanie Milot

Name: Bonnie Loedel
Age: 45
Hometown: New York City, NY
Event: 2011 ING New York City Marathon

For Bonnie Loedel, running the 2011 ING New York City Marathon with Team Reeve is a way to pay tribute to her husband. Through her efforts to support the Reeve Foundation, not only will her husband benefit, but also other individuals who may sustain an injury.

Loedel, 45, lives in Harwich, Massachusetts with her husband Mark, 46, and their two sons Trevor, 9, and Declan, 6. Mark endured a spinal cord injury at age 19 due to a diving accident. He is living with incomplete quadriparesis, meaning that he has weakness in both of his arms and legs. In 1991, Bonnie and Mark met at Boston University Law School and have been together ever since.

Honoring her husband
"Even though Mark has a disability, we live our lives day-to-day," says Loedel. "We've got two kids, and we're involved in all their activities. Mark is an active person who doesn't let the disability define him."

Loedel is filled with kind words about, and admiration for her husband who is, in her words, "a super optimistic person." It's no surprise that she is running the marathon in his honor. She is inspired by her husband's stories about the support he had from his neighborhood when he was initially injured. Members of Mark's community held a fundraiser to buy him an adaptive van.

"He's talked about how wonderful everybody was," says Loedel. "He feared driving by himself. His parents' friends would drive with him to keep him company. It's really nice to hear stories like that."

Marathons in her genes
Having grown up in New York City, Loedel watched her father run 13 marathons, including the city's marathon several times. Loedel has spent much of her life playing sports, particularly tennis, but it was not until her college years that she began running to maintain her stamina for tennis.

"I really enjoy running a lot more now in my forties than I did in my twenties," says Loedel. "Now with kids and working, it's one of the few moments I have peace to myself when I'm out there running." In 2010, Loedel decided to run the Boston Marathon for personal satisfaction, describing it as "an awesome experience."

"Running a marathon was always something that I wanted to do and it was a great experience at Boston," says Loedel. "Since I had one under my belt, I was like, ‘Now I can do it for a charity and raise money.'" That's exactly what she'll be doing on November 6, 2011.

Mom on the go
Raising two young boys and working full-time as Chief Fiduciary Officer for the Trust and Asset Management of a community bank called Cape Cod Five, she faces some difficulty finding the time to train and raise money for the marathon. "I probably do the minimum that you need to do," says Loedel about training, "but I try to run during my lunch hour and on the weekends. That's how I get it to come all together."

Loedel is sending emails and using her Team Reeve webpage to encourage people to make donations to the Reeve Foundation. She is also getting fundraising tips from Mark's cousin who ran two marathons to benefit The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for his father. "Whatever people can give will be great," says Loedel. "I'm not worried. It will fall into place."

To prepare for 2010's Boston Marathon, Loedel spent four days per week running and one day cross-training. With this consistent routine, she hopes to finish New York City in 4 hours, 30 minutes; 15 minutes faster than her time in Boston. Loedel is also aiming to raise $5,000 for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.

When Loedel ran the Boston Marathon, she wore a shirt with the words, "Go Mom Go" written on the back, accompanied with a picture of her sons. "For 26 miles I heard people screaming, ‘Go Mom Go,'" says Loedel. "It was awesome. It was a great experience to cross the finish line."

The power of positive thinking
While running a marathon, "the adrenaline is pumping," says Loedel. "Having the crowds cheering pushed me and got me through it, especially in the last couple of miles. The energy and excitement is great."

Loedel also considers mental focus to be a factor in completing a marathon. "If I can run it, anyone can run it. It's really being focused in your training," says Loedel. "You get a mental toughness just to keep going, especially at the later miles."

In reference to her husband's accomplishment of driving after being injured, Loedel relates the will-power to run a marathon to her husband's positive attitude to achieve his goals. "Mark thought, ‘I can't drive by myself. I can't do certain things,' and before he knew it, he was not only driving but was a practicing lawyer, and a wonderful father and husband," Loedel says. "You will yourself to do them. You overcome, and sometimes it's mental obstacles, not physical."

Foundation relation
In January 2011, when searching online for charities to run for in the marathon, the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation struck Loedel as the best choice. She feels a connection to the Foundation not only because her husband is living with a spinal cord injury, but also because of the Reeve family.

"I relate because they were a family going through this together," says Loedel, "and we're a family going through this together." She continues, "I think Christopher and Dana were wonderful and strong individuals. I find them both very admirable."

Mom's motivation
The recipe for Loedel's marathon success is support, a desire to help others, and inspiration. Loedel has the support of family and friends donating to the Foundation and attending the marathon, a personal desire to provide the funds to help people living with spinal cord injuries, and the inspiration of the obstacles overcome by the Reeve family and her own husband.

Referring to Mark's bond with their kids, "Mark is an awesome parent," says Loedel. "He goes to all of our kids' sporting events and sets a great example with his strong work ethic. He's a hands-on dad." Loedel explains her relationship with her husband, "Mark is my best friend, and I share everything with him. He's my partner in both this marathon and in life."

If you would like to support Bonnie Loedel and the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, check out Bonnie's donation page.

Learn more
Inspired by Bonnie's story? Want to join Team Reeve? You don't have to be an athlete to become a member. Click here

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Continue Christopher Reeve's LegacyPhoto by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders