My Boston Marathon Story: Tim Morris

 TIM MORRIS COMPETES IN LAST YEAR’S BOSTON MARATHON/PHOTO PROVIDED  A decade after severely injuring his spinal cord, Morris is out for marathon glory.  By  Jamie Ducharme  |  Boston Wellness  | March 21, 2017, 3:19 p.m.


A decade after severely injuring his spinal cord, Morris is out for marathon glory.

By Jamie DucharmeBoston Wellness | March 21, 2017, 3:19 p.m.

Tim Morris
Location: Londonderry, NH
Previous Boston Marathon Appearances: 1

His Marathon Story:

Ten years ago, Tim Morris was, in his words, a “run-of-the-mill, dime-a-dozen personal trainer.” Today, he’s breaking athletic boundaries—all from his wheelchair.

Morris’ life changed in 2007, when he seriously injured his spinal cord in a distracted driving accident. He spent a month in a medically induced coma, and awoke to find himself paralyzed from the chest down.

“The first step was taking ownership, [realizing,] ‘Nobody did this to you. But nobody can pull yourself out of this situation except for you,'” Morris says. “I kind of just reevaluated my life and the way I was living it.”

Among other things, that meant refocusing, and strengthening, his passion for fitness.

“Before my injury, I was a big talker about things I wanted to do in the future, but it always stayed in the future,” Morris says. “I wanted to do an Iron Man—or at least I talked about wanting to do an Iron Man.”

Post-accident, Morris turned talk into action. Following treatment at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, he took up obstacle racing and triathlons, eventually becoming the first wheelchair athlete to complete a Tough Mudder.

The Boston Marathon entered the picture last year, when he lined up in Hopkinton to represent Spaulding in the wheelchair race. Despite his other athletic achievements, the New Hampshire resident wasn’t sure what to expect from the world’s oldest annual marathon.

“It was my first time running Boston, and I didn’t do as hot as I had hoped to. I didn’t know what I didn’t know,” he says. “[But] I experienced why this is the elite marathon in the world. It was such an amazing experience, and the support from the Spaulding team was just incredible.”

He’s raising money for the rehab hospital again this year, with his sister, Eileen, by his side. The siblings have together raised more than $8,500, with an ultimate goal of $12,000.

And while Morris says the chance to support Spaulding with his sister is “really special,” he also wants to come back for round two better, faster, and stronger. His goal is to finish in two hours or less, putting himself on track to compete for a third time in 2018.

“In Boston, for the entire 26 miles, there’s crowd support cheering you on. It’s pretty spectacular,” Morris says. “I’m looking forward to again supporting an organization that I love and means so much to me, but also just living in the moment and having an overall better experience, a better performance than last year.”

To donate to Tim and Eileen’s fundraiser, click here.

Lynnfield's Normile Runs on a Mission

  COURTESY PHOTO   Lynnfield native Danielle Nolan Normile (left) with her cousin, Dylan Rizzo. 

Lynnfield native Danielle Nolan Normile (left) with her cousin, Dylan Rizzo. 


Lynnfield native Danielle Nolan Normile is on a mission.  The 2007 Lynnfield High School graduate is running  the 121st Boston Marathon this April with the Spaulding Race for Rehab Team.

Normile is running the race in honor of her cousin, Dylan Rizzo.  On December 28, 2010, Rizzo’s car hit a patch of black ice on Summer Street just 200 yards from his home. He was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Within an hour, neurosurgeons had removed the left side of his skull and part of the right to make room for his brain to swell.

But Rizzo had slipped into a deep coma and would remain in a coma for two weeks.  After about a month, he finally opened his eyes.  He was awake, but was not aware of his surroundings.  He had transitioned into a vegetative state.

Doctors initially said there was no hope for a successful recovery and that he likely would stay in a vegetative state for the rest of his life.

Joseph Giacino, a researcher at Spaulding Rehab Hospital, disagreed.  He began studying the case. He explained that with practice he believed Dylan’s brain could get better. That’s when Dylan moved to Spaulding and they got to work.

Dylan was a patient at Spaulding Boston for five months.  Five years after the accident, Dylan proved Giacino was right, making a miraculous recovery and resuming many aspects of his pre-accident life, including volunteering as an assistant coach for the Lynnfield High indoor and outdoor track teams.

“Without the help of the amazing staff at Spaulding Rehab Hospital, my cousin may not have progressed to where he is today. My family is incredibly grateful towards Spaulding and I feel especially honored to have an opportunity to give back to Spaulding,” said Normile.  “I know every day is a struggle but it’s also a miracle. My family owes a lot to Spaulding and I am flattered that I can do my part and give back to those that helped my family live through the worst year of our life.”

Normile’s goal is to raise $8,000.  To date, her campaign has raised $6,625 or 83 percent of her goal, not including proceeds from the Pizza with a Purpose fundraiser held March 13 at California Pizza Kitchen at Market Street in Lynnfield.

Over the past 12 years, more than 350 Race for Rehab runners have raised over $3.5 million.  Funds raised through the Race for Rehab program have provided advancements to patient care, education, research innovation and capital improvements. Every dollar supports Spaulding’s  mission to improve the quality of life for persons recovering from or learning to live fully with illness, injury or disability.

This year, funds raised will support the many research initiatives within the Spaulding Network. The research aims to improve the care provided to Spaulding patients, as well as patient outcomes in clinical areas such as spinal cord injury, brain injury, musculoskeletal and neurological disorders.

For more information or to make a donation, visit Normile’s fundraising page,

2017 SPC Leadership Award Recipient: Lauren Buonomo

2017 SPC Leadership Award Recipient:

Lauren Buonomo

Congratulations to Lauren Buonomo, the winner of the 2017 Spaulding Professionals Council Leadership Award. Since 2010 Lauren has not only supported Spaulding on a leadership level philanthropically but has also served on a number of event committees and stepped in as a volunteer coordinator to assist the development staff at various events throughout the years.

Beyond her role with the SPC, she assists patient's families with hotel stays ensuring that they can be close to their loved ones. Having a personal liaison for these families, helps to ease their stress during a difficult time. For these reasons and many more, we thank and congratulate Lauren for her dedication and support.

Students raise money for teacher running Boston Marathon


A Windham teacher is going the extra mile, running the Boston Marathon to raise money for Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston.

On Valentine’s Day, Eileen Lingley’s second-grade students at Golden Brook Elementary School showed her their support for her mission: They presented her with $275 they’d secretly raised for her run.

Lingley and her brother, Tim Morris, who was paralyzed in a car accident 10 years ago, will compete in the Boston Marathon together. Morris has since worked at Spaulding Rehab, witnessing the progress being made there and has even walked himself in a robotic exoskeleton device.

“I'm not even sure I can put it into words,” Lingley said of her students' generosity, and getting to run Boston for Spaulding. “It's amazing to be able to do this for him.”

His photos and story are posted in the classroom, next to letters that spell out the word “grit.”

“I just decided that, you know what, it's going to be a little bit harder now, but it's time to start living,” Morris said. “So I got into running, swimming, biking.”

Morris crossed the finish line last year using a racing wheelchair. This will be Lingley’s fourth time running Boston.

“What an amazing thing to do,” Lingley told her students. “We really appreciate it.”

Spaulding mentor program marks 25th year

 Credit: Chris Christo   FRIENDS IN ADVERSITY: Katie Tuscano watches as her mentor Ryan DeRoche interacts with his assistance dog Oliver at Spaulding Rehabilitation hospital in Charlestown.

Credit: Chris Christo

FRIENDS IN ADVERSITY: Katie Tuscano watches as her mentor Ryan DeRoche interacts with his assistance dog Oliver at Spaulding Rehabilitation hospital in Charlestown.

On March 6, 2011, Ryan DeRoche went flying over the handlebars of his mountain bike during a ride in Girona, Spain. He cracked his neck and became paralyzed from the chest down.

On the same date in 2015, more than 3,600 miles away while driving in Kingston, N.H., Katie Tuscano was rear-ended by a six-ton truck. She injured her spinal cord in the same place DeRoche had four years earlier.

The two Bay State natives were brought together by a ground-breaking peer mentorship program that started in Boston and has become a model for other hospitals nationwide as it this year celebrates its 25th anniversary.

“I remember that I was scared; I didn’t know much about having a spinal cord injury or what was to come,” Tuscano said. “I was scared, and Ryan just made it so easy to talk to him. It was like I had known him forever. He was just there for me.”

The peer mentorship program is set up through the Greater Boston Chapter of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association and operates out of Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown. DeRoche served as Tuscano’s peer mentor, coaching her on how to cope with the life-shattering experience she had endured.

“I started doing it because I had mentors when I was in the hospital and it pushed me further to get me motivated and keep pushing,” DeRoche, 35, said.

“Doctors and therapists will tell you things, but they’re not in the wheelchair, they’re not in this position, they never have been. When you see someone else in a wheelchair, whether they are the same injury or not, it’s huge.”

DeRoche and Tuscano, 31, started meeting a few weeks after Tuscano came to Spaulding and still stay in touch frequently through social media. In addition to having their accidents on the same date, they also share a Nov. 12 birthday four years apart.

“The whole basis for peer mentoring is that we learn best from someone like us,” said Beth Weaver, the program’s executive director. “This is a trick that I learned, this is how I went back to school, this is how I can have a relationship now that I am paralyzed.”

Dan Meninger, who directs the spinal cord injury program at Spaulding, said other hospitals often reach out to learn more about how their program works.

“We love to be able to share and learn from other hospitals and organizations that are doing similar work and having success with it,” Meninger said. “It’s been an invaluable resource.”

DeRoche is living in Melrose with his service dog, a black lab named Oliver. He is able to take a few steps, tie his shoes, dress himself, and regain much of his independence.

Tuscano, who is building a house in Stoneham, said her happiest moment was moving her arms again so she could hug her 8-year-old goddaughter. She was also able to attend a “hike and bike” event, organized in part by DeRoche, through a state forest in Andover.

“That day,” she said, choking up, “was the first day that I didn’t feel like I was in a wheelchair.”

Spaulding Cape Cod completes $6.4M expansion, renovation project

Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital has finished a renovation and expansion project intended to prep for what it expects to be a doubling of the number of elderly residents near its Cape location in coming years.

The $6.4 million project at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Cape Cod in Sandwich included a two-story, 6,230-square-foot addition to the facility, and renovations to about one sixth of the space in the existing 76,900-square-foot hospital.

The construction was completed over 10 months with architectural design firm Margulies Perruzzi Architects. The hospital says it added two physician rooms and eight new outpatient therapy rooms, doubling private treatment space and increasing outpatient capacity.

On the outpatient treatment side, a multi-purpose room was added to the first floor for current and future wellness and community programs. In the inpatient hospital, five treatment rooms were added as well as a patient resource room.

The project also redesigned the reception area, expanded the lobby, and reimagined the check-in area to be more private and accommodating to patients.

The 60-bed hospital had faced space constraints with its existing volume, and executives only expected demand to increase as the elder population booms. According to the hospital, the number of residents on Cape Cod over 65 is projected to double between 2015 and 2030.

Currently the hospital, which is the only rehab hospital on the Cape, serves 1,100 patients annually. Its outpatient services and physicians also provide more than 100,000 visits annually. The expansion will allow the hospital to provide an additional 21,000 more visits a year.

Jessica Bartlett

Reporter, Boston Business Journal

POSTPONED: Spaulding Council on Disability Awareness Brown Bag Lunch Talk


The Spaulding Council on Disability Awareness Brown Bag Lunch Talk: A Conversation About Partnering with Patients on the Road to Acceptance scheduled for tomorrow has been postponed due to travel issues for our speaker.  Another date for the talk is being planned and will be communicated when it is confirmed. We apologize for any inconvenience.


Spaulding Council on Disability Awareness
Brown Bag Lunch Talk:
A Conversation About Partnering with
Patients on the Road to Acceptance

About The Speaker
Chris Anselmo is a 30-year old patient living with Miyoshi myopathy, an adult-onset form of muscular dystrophy. After spending many years in denial about the prognosis of his disease, Chris has found meaning in his struggle, and now writes and speaks regularly about his patient journey and his road to acceptance. As a patient, Chris regularly interacts with specialists such as neurologists, pulmonologists and physical therapists, and is a part of an international study monitoring his disease progression over time.  

Chris will share his story and thoughts around how healthcare professionals can partner with patients to help them when they have a chronic illness and to empower them to take charge of their circumstances, set goals for the future, and thrive with their given condition.

Chris is a 2016 graduate of the Boston College MBA program and currently works in the admissions office at the Carroll Graduate School of Management at Boston College. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017
12PM - 1PM

Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital
Conference Center B
300 First Avenue
Charlestown, MA 02129

Directions to Spaulding can be found here:

Public transportation is highly encouraged. Limited hourly parking available at Building 199 and accessible parking available on-site.

For more information, questions and disability related accommodations please contact Colleen Moran at, or 617.952.6927.

Denna Laing Drops Ceremonial Puck At Frozen Fenway

 Denna Laing prepares to drop the ceremonial puck before a Frozen Fenway game. (WBZ-TV)

Denna Laing prepares to drop the ceremonial puck before a Frozen Fenway game. (WBZ-TV)

BOSTON (CBS) – As the Frozen Fenway continued at historic Fenway Park on Tuesday, Denna Laing found herself at center ice.

Laing took the ice for the ceremonial puck drop just over a year after she suffered a serious spinal cord injury while playing in the Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium.

“I’ve never been on the ice at Fenway first for me,” Laing said.

Her National Women’s Hockey League career was cut short on New Year’s Eve 2015 when she crashed into the boards while playing with the Boston Pride.

Over the past year she’s been working to regain physical strength at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

“I still work out five days a week and do stuff at home on the weekends,” Laing said.

Laing was honored Tuesday in front of family and friends at Fenway Park where her high school alma mater, Nobles and Greenough School, proudly wore her name on their jersey.

“I am super excited that my high school is involved the pride will be here and my sisters are playing later so really special day,” Laing said.

All of the proceeds from Tuesday’s games at Fenway will go to the Denna Laing Fund to help the family get through this difficult time in her life.

“It just pays for all the things we need for her in the house and allow her to get around the house easier,” her mother Jeriyln Laing said.

More than a year after her injury Denna still loves the game, even though she knows she has a long road ahead of her.

“Patience and making things work and may not seem easy. The only way to get there is to keep trying,” Laing said.

Paul Burton