Runner Profile: Kate Giere Fundraises for Beth Israel

By Stephanie Simon

BU News Service

One week before the Boston Marathon, amid the din of lunch preparation at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center on Brookline Avenue, Kate Giere and

Maude Meade sit at facing desks in the kitchen offices. Meade looks up from her paperwork at Giere, her fellow Sodexo Patient Services Food Operations Manager.

“You know, I was listening to NPR on my way to work,” Meade says in her lilting Caribbean accent. “A nurse was talking about how she felt the need to run this year, to honor the families they helped.”

Giere, who, like Meade, has round cheeks that hide her eyes when she smiles, nods.

“Yeah, we had never seen that side of each other that we saw last year,” says Giere, who has been at BIDMC for almost two years.

“You get so close to the patients, you have to do something for them,” says Meade, who has worked at the hospital for 37 years. “And this year, my coworker is running, so I feel a part of it. Like I’m doing something to honor them through her.”

Meade looks up at Giere.

“It’s part of the healing process for all of us,” Giere says.

Giere, 26, will be running the marathon with BIDMC’s team. She said the dedication and selflessness of the food services staff during last year’s bombings inspired her to dust off her cross-country running muscle memory from her high school days in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and begin her journey toward the finish line.

She had to raise $7,500 and push through injury in the hope of completing a race that would signify the community and support of what she calls her work family.

“Last year, I got a text from my boyfriend, Dave, on Marathon Monday saying something about bombs. We had no idea initially,” says Giere. “I walked out into the hospital lobby around 4 p.m. and family members started coming in. Hundreds of people were walking away from Boylston [Street}. Some people were injured themselves. People weren’t sure where to go and were just walking up.”

BIDMC is just over a mile from the marathon’s finish line. Giere described how runners and families gravitated toward the hospital in a post-apocalyptic scene. She said that the lobby was full of people, and the hospital’s west campus, which is much larger, was also full.

“Social workers were running around trying to figure out who was who,” said Giere.

Giere’s fellow Food Operations Manager, Shana Sporman, said she was amazed at how the BIDMC employees all came together to support patients, families and each other during what she called an anxious month.

“I was especially humbled to be a part of such an impressive food service staff. Every one of our employees and managers called to come in and help, even during the city-wide lockdown,” wrote Sporman in an email. “We not only fed the victims, their families and loved ones, but also the other 500-plus patients, the staff that weren’t allowed to leave the facility, the police force and surrounding buildings with employees unable to access food. It was unbelievable.”

Giere says she was inspired to commit to the fundraising process because of the devotion she witnessed. The hospital assigns each member of its 70-person team to raise money for a charity. She said the pressure was real when at the bottom of the Boston Athletic Association application form she had to enter her credit card number; if she failed to meet her target, she’d have to cover the difference.

“My boyfriend said jokingly, ‘Oh, we both know who will be picking up the tab,’” says Giere.

Giere was assigned to Healthy Champions, a Boston non-profit that educates low-income children on fitness, cooking, and gardening.

“As a dietitian I couldn’t be more thrilled that’s what I was assigned,” says Giere.

On Friday, February 28,, Giere, who recruited a fundraising team that includes Meade and Sporman, held an event at Cambridge’s Veterans of Foreign Wars post 8818 where she was able to raise $7,125. There were appetizers, a cash bar, a DJ, a raffle, and the headline activity was an adult spelling bee.

“The hospital staff and my friends coming together to donate such a large amount was just another representation of the amazing support they are,” said Giere.

After the fundraising event, money continued to be donated to Giere through the BIDMC fundraising website, but she was privately facing another challenge: injury.

Giere was diagnosed with I.T. band syndrome and patellar tendinitis in both knees. I.T. band syndrome is common in runners, according to the Runner’s World website. Runner’s World explains that when the I.T. ligament, which runs down the leg from hip to shin, becomes inflamed it causes a great amount of pain for a runner and can put him or her out of commission for weeks.

But Giere refused to surrender. “Last year when I saw close friends, family and strangers react to something so unnatural it inspired me to say, ‘I can do this, I can train, I can make a difference and if people did this last year I can do it this year. I can run 26 miles.’”

“She was feeling down about it,” said Sporman during an April interview. “She is so inspiring. I told her if she can’t run on the day, as soon as she is better we will walk the course.”

A week before the marathon, however, Giere seemed hopeful. She had surpassed the $7,500 she needed to raise and was able to run/walk 19 miles during her last training session.

“It felt good,” said Giere. “We will see on marathon day how it goes.

* * *

Today, on the 118th running of the Boston Marathon, Giere finished in four hours, 54 minutes and 31 seconds.

After, she headed into the Westin Hotel, where BIDMC was throwing a congratulatory party for the team in a meeting room. There was a photographer, food, and supporters. Giere’s family was there. They were showing off signs to Sporman that they made to cheer Giere on during the race. Two of the signs read “Kate is Great” and “Run Kate Run,” and one of her fellow food service employees said, “We are so proud of her.”

Giere said she was just starting to feel the pain in her knees and legs as she stood for pictures. But the experience was everything she hoped it would be and more.

“Spectators had such great signs,” said Giere. “The best thing was at the beginning when people saw that we were with the hospital they were cheering, ‘Thank you.’ It almost made me cry it was so sweet.”