By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — Local mom Samantha Gasbarro has three good reasons for running the Boston Marathon in October to raise money for Boston Children’s Hospital.
Their names are Serafina, Santino and Vincenzo.
“Serafina was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect called tetralogy of Fallot at 18 weeks gestation by her cardiologist at Children’s.” Gasbarro explains. “She had a life-saving open heart surgery at just two months old and has continued to receive amazing care in the months and years that followed. Tetralogy of Fallot used to be a death sentence, but Serafina is now a happy, healthy, thriving two-year-old.”
Tetralogy of Fallot is a rare condition caused by a combination of four heart defects that are present at birth.
These defects, which affect the structure of the heart, cause oxygen-poor blood to flow out of the heart and to the rest of the body. Infants and children with Tetralogy of Fallot usually have blue-tinged skin because their blood doesn’t carry enough oxygen.
Children with untreated tetralogy of Fallot rarely make it to adulthood. But with early diagnosis followed by appropriate surgical treatment, most children and adults who have tetralogy of Fallot live relatively normal lives, though they’ll need regular medical care throughout life and might have restrictions on exercise.
And there’s another big reason Gasbarro will be running the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston this fall: her son, Santino.
“In October of 2020 Boston Children’s Hospital was there for us again when my son was born three months early,” Gasbarro says. “BCH worked hand in hand with our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital to save his life and today he is a thriving nine-month-old. These are two very big and very blessed reasons to be running.”
Samantha and her husband Rob Gasbarro are also the proud parents of three-year-old Vincenzo, who has also received care at Children’s Hospital.
“The hospital’s patient care programs are unusually sensitive to what sick and injured children and their families really need,” Samantha says. “Researchers regularly make amazing discoveries that change children’s lives.”
This will be the first Boston Marathon for Samantha Gasbarro, who admits that she’s relatively new to running. A 2007 Wakefield High School graduate (her name was Samantha Cresta back then), she was a member of Dance Team but her introduction to running only came last March, when she decided to give the “Couch to 5K 30-day breakaway program” a try.
The program is designed get beginning runners gradually up to running five kilometers (about 3.1 miles). She ran her first mile in March and completed her first 5K run in April.
Gasbarro applied and was accepted to join Children’s Hospital’s “Miles for Miracles” Boston Marathon team. Applicants with personal connections to the hospital and high fundraising goals are given top consideration. Gasbarro certainly met those conditions.
“I joined the Miles for Miracles team because I believe so strongly in all the amazing things Boston Children’s Hospital does for kids, especially for Serafina,” Gasbarro says.
In addition, joining the Miles for Miracles team offered benefits that are not available to an individual runner, including access to a team of dedicated coaches who work with runners of all levels and running abilities. They provide runners with a training schedule and offer team practices to help runners train. In addition to a schedule of weekday training runs, the Miles for Miracles team meets every Saturday morning in the Greater Boston area for group runs of gradually increasing distances.
While participation in the group training program is optional, Gasbarro says it made sense for her.
“It’s mentally easier to do long runs with other people,” she says.
Gasbarro is almost halfway to her fundraising goal of $7,500. She would be grateful for any help towards reaching and exceeding her goal. Donations can be made on her fundraising web page at fundraise.childrenshospital.org/goto/SerafinaFaith.
From that page, you can also download a mail-in donation form if that is your preference.
As she continues to train for her first Boston Marathon in October, Gasbarro couldn’t be more appreciative for any and all contributions to her fundraising campaign.
“I am beyond grateful for all of our past, current and future donors,” she says. “Because of you, my children are home with me.”