Pioneering Rehabilitation

NYC Marathon: Team Burke Runners

Jessica Berman
On November 7, 2004, my husband and I completed the NYC marathon together. We stayed together every step of the way, including when we crossed the finish line. The race was surprisingly easy for him, despite the fact that he had only become a runner through my urging in the prior 6 months that we trained for the marathon together. Brad is just that kind of athlete and person—he makes things look easy!

The first 15 miles I was exuberant—high-fiving spectators along the way—but by mile 19, I hit "the wall." Thankfully, Brad's reserves were deeper than mine (and he, in typical Brad fashion, remained even-keeled from mile 1) and he helped me through the final 7 miles. On that day, I was proud to finish in just under 4 hours and 30 minutes, but was adamant that I would never do another marathon.

Brad, on the other hand, got the marathon bug and went on to run another 3 marathons. On August 4, 2013 at 7:31 a.m. when our lives were turned upside down by his hemmorhagic stroke, he was filling his water bottles for a long training run in preparation for the 2013 NYC Marathon. Instead, he spent the next four weeks in a coma and four months living in hospitals. He woke up unable to breathe, eat, walk and talk. Watching him work his way back has been like watching a miracle. His determination is remarkable and inspiring.

I decided that running a marathon to raise awareness and fund raise for the lower limb robotics clinic at Burke—which he refers to as a "game changer" in terms of the impact on his gait restoration—was the least I could do. You can learn more about the robotics clinic and why it is so important to Brad's recovery by watching this news story, produced by CBS.

Every step I take in this marathon will be FOR BRAD. And I can't wait until he is running marathons again, so I can happily go back into marathon retirement.

To support Jessica's run, click here.

Rachel Berger 
My running journey began in 2000, when I had the privilege of escorting a dear friend to the NYC Marathon Expo. While I played sports growing up, I had never trained or competed in any running event.  But that soon changed. By 2003, I had earned my entry into the NYC Marathon and had such a positive experience.  I have since run NYC 3 additional times— in 2008 and 2010 (the years after each of my children were born) and again in 2013. I can’t imagine running 26.2 miles anywhere else—the energy of the crowds along the NYC route is magical.

 This year, as a member of the Run4Brad team, I will truly be running with my heart—not just my legs.   Along with this amazing team of runners, I am proud to raise funds for robotics therapy and raise awareness for traumatic brain injuries and/or AVMs.  I know this run will be fueled by the strength, spirit and determination epitomized the Bermans.

 To support Rachel's run, click here

Erika Boyer-Berman
My passion and desire for running started very recently. Over the years, I had occasionally run 5K’s here and there, but there was nothing that I would be proud about—I was just happy I had finished and was not last. Most of my previous running training had focused around some ‘emotional’ time in my life where it allowed me to escape from the stress of the reality and have some clearer thinking. My bucket list has always included a marathon and I had thought about doing one for a milestone, but I had not been motivated to actually take on the challenge. 

Over the last couple of years, running has become an event that my entire family has been able to share together in different capacities. Plus, it has helped channel some of that competitive spirit we all have. When Jessica posted that there were entries for the NYC marathon, I thought, “Wow, now this would be a good time to get that check on the bucket list (and have no excuse to back out).”

My husband Adam has run the NYC marathon twice, and I talked with him about what I was really considering getting myself into. He encouraged me to put my name into consideration, but also said it would take lots of training. I knew I was ready for the challenge and let Jessica know I wanted to be considered. Receiving the email with my name on the list was such an exciting day! I am looking forward to the challenges of training, the joys of accomplishment and the pride of representing the team.

To support Erika's run, click here.

Jill Blumencranz
I have been an athlete my entire life, mainly focusing on soccer and lacrosse, but I have always loved to run. I participated in my first half marathon in May 2011. Since then I have completed 3 half marathons and 1 full marathon. I love the constant challenge that running gives me. My dad is my inspiration and motivator. He is a 3 time Ironman and my biggest role model. He has taught me that if you put your mind to something you can accomplish anything. I really take this to heart while I run.

I met Jessica through my dad. Jessica then came to my sample sale (I work for a denim company) and I helped her pick a few pairs of jeans that look amazing on her! Having heard the story of what happened to Brad a few months later, my dad and I knew we had to do something. Reading the emails of Brad’s recovery, I am humbled by his strength. I am so excited to be a part of the team this year and to raise money and awareness for AVM research.

To support Jill's run, click here.

Susan Cohig
I have been running consistently for about twenty years. In addition to the outlet running offers me to manage stress, I love the ability to see places in my community (and where I occasionally travel) from a different perspective. All I need are my running shoes and my music and I can go anywhere. I have never run a marathon before but as a runner, have always wanted to run the New York Marathon. I can't think of a better way to do it than as a part of this team.

I know Brad through my colleague Jessica Berman, his smart, courageous wife. It has been incredibly moving and inspiring to see how Brad and Jessica not only have fought through Brad's difficult recovery from his brain injury, but to see them further mobilize a community by raising money to help others. I am honored to be a part of the effort.

To support Susan's run, click here.

Keith Curtis
I started running after college while living in Manhattan. The purpose was part enjoyment, but mostly for exercise. I ran my first marathon in 2011, and not satisfied with my time was determined to do it again, strictly for a personal challenge. I ran into Jessica Berman earlier this summer at a pool club after not having seen her since we were friends at the University of Michigan many years earlier. I had heard about Brad's stroke after it happened and naturally my heart felt for her. That day I saw Brad in the pool doing his water therapy. Witnessing Brad's amazing grit and determination during his workout put my own personal challenge in perspective and I was immediately motivated to devote my marathon training to a greater cause.

Between Brad's accident and other significant tragedies to hit young families I know, I have been forced to consider how precious life is. Way too often, I realize life does not treat people fairly. I recently came across a great saying: "Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional." This applies in more ways than one to my current training experience. Family members need to be loved and friendships need to be cherished as one never knows what challenges lie ahead. And in times of need it's important to be there for those that need the support.

To support Keith's run, click here.

Brian J. Gershengorn
I started running in law school. I found that running was a great way for me to get out of the library and relieve some stress. Since I was in Brooklyn, my runs always started and ended on the Brooklyn Bridge—not a bad place to run. I caught the marathon bug in 2003 when I began working at Proskauer, which is where I met Jessica and Brad. I ran my first marathon in 2004, the NYC marathon. My goal was simply to finish the race and I managed to accomplish my goal. Since 2004 I have really enjoyed competitive running and I have run four marathons. In a typical week, I now run between 40-50 miles. 

I recall August 4, 2013 like it was yesterday—we had just gotten back from my son’s birthday party when we found out that Brad was being rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery for a hemorrhagic stroke. My family has been following Brad’s progress and we are all amazed at his strength and determination. He is truly an inspiration! I am very proud and privileged to be a part of the team and run the 2014 NYC Marathon. This is truly an incredible fundraising effort and I am so glad that I can help support Brad, Jessica, Noah, Andrew and their families.   

To support Brian's run, click here.

Tov Haueisen
I ran track in high school and college. That said, I never ran very far. I was a sprinter/jumper and didn't even enjoy the 800m warm up. As I got a little older, I started doing a few more 5K and 10K's and then did a few triathlons. That is when I decided to run the NYC marathon. I ran NY in 2010 and was convinced it was my only marathon—but Brad's story has changed that.

When presented with the opportunity to create additional awareness for Brad's story and help raise money, I wanted to be part of the team. Though Brad and I did not work together much while we were colleagues at GE, his story, courage, and determination (along with everything that Jessica is doing!) is truly inspiring. Similar to my other marathon teammates, I am excited to be a part of the team and will support the Bermans in the spirit of strength, determination and courage!

To support Tov's run, click here.

Cara Lorenzoni
I started running 4 years ago while on vacation with my family. Since college I have always done some form of light exercise, but after having my third child, I found losing that last little bit of baby weight was very difficult! Once I started running, I loved how quickly my body returned to its pre-pregnancy shape, but even more rewarding was the sense of accomplishment I felt after going out for a run. My mind was clearer and my body was getting stronger—I was hooked!  Since then, I have run 2 full marathons and several half marathons. Running has given me an outlet to challenge myself, meet new people, and accomplish things I never thought possible!

I met Brad during our junior year of high school. I was a new student at Yorktown High School that year and remember Brad as kind and friendly face in an unfamiliar environment. As I learned more about the movement to raise awareness about AVMs and other brain injuries, I wanted to do what I could to spread their message of hope. I am honored to be a part of the team and will support the Bermans in the spirit of strength, determination and courage!

 To support Cara's run, click here.

Bree Murphy
I started running in law school—as a stress release and because I was living in Charlottesville, Virginia, where everyone is a runner and the scenery is too beautiful to waste. I started training and racing after I had my third child in 2009. At the time, I had three kids under the age of two, so getting out of the house to run – alone – was a luxury. Concurrently, my dad was succumbing to his battle with cancer, and I found that being competitive and focusing on a training plan helped me channel my emotions and keep my head in check for my family and my work. Since then, I have run many 5 and 10k races, several ten milers and half marathons, and my first marathon in March 2014.  

I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Brad, but when Jessica contacted me about representing the team, I was honored by her request. I am an old camp friend of Jessica’s, and Brookwood love runs deep! As I learned more about what Brad has accomplished since last August, I was humbled by his perseverance, and I am so proud of my old friend and the strength she has shown in the face of adversity. I am so happy to be a part of this team and to help bring awareness to and raise funds for AVM research and robotics therapy.

To support Bree's run, click here.

Karen Murray
After being tired of being a little too heavy (50 pounds overweight), I started going to the gym back in 2008. I learned that the fastest way I could lose weight in the time limit I had in the mornings before taking my 3 kids to school and getting to work on time was running. At the time, I could only run 1 minute, walk 1 minute, and usually only for 20 minutes. And then it progressed. 

Since October 2012, I have completed 13 half marathons, 14 marathons, one 50 Mile Ultra and one 12 hour Ultra event (completing 48.45 miles). I became passionate about running for many reasons. One of which was inspiring others that they can complete whatever they set their minds to do, and second, fundraising for various events: Challenged Athletes, Lungevity in memory of my father, who I lost in December 2012, American Cancer Society in memory of my Aunt Joyce, who I lost in February 2013, and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in memory of my dear Uncle Joe (June 2013). To be able to run for a reason has made it feel even more special to me!

I first became acquainted with Run4Brad at the NYRR Scotland 10K run. I continue to be inspired by the sheer determination of Brad and Jessica, and want to continue their quest to raise money for the Robotics Clinic at Burke Rehabilitation Center. Raising awareness of the important role robotics play in the rehab of people with brain and spinal cord injuries is a noble goal, so not only will I be running the NYC 2014 Marathon, I will also be completing 5 marathons in 5 days in September 2014 in support of the Run 4 Brad team. Thanks for your support.

 To support Karen's run, click here.

Kat O’Brien
I started running when I was 13 and beginning high school. I thought I would try out for the track team, and ended up running both track and cross country, and became a runner for life. I like running for many reasons: I enjoy being able to explore cities, especially when traveling, through running; it's a great form of fitness (I like to compete against myself and PR's for time); it's a good stress relief and a time to think; and you can do it pretty much anywhere. I've run two marathons so far.

I only recently met Brad, after having read about his story in the Sports Business Journal's 40 Under 40 issue. However, I felt a really strong connection as a runner in my 30's who also suffered a stroke, albeit a mild one in my case. I suffered a concussion in a freak incident on an airplane in June 2011, and developed constant severe migraines. Ultimately I began having memory problems, balance issues, getting lost and other issues—a lacunar infarct (mild stroke) was diagnosed. I'm doing fantastic now, and to be able to run a marathon after all that will be a huge accomplishment, and particularly to run the NYC Marathon, which is where I live. It will be so much more meaningful to be able to run it for a really important cause that is so personal to me.

 To support Kat's run, click here.

Steven Schindler
I have been in the health and fitness industry for the last 20 years as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Since 2008, I have done over 50 different endurance races such as running, triathlons, stair climbs, swimming and obstacles. I ran track in high school and thought I was pretty slow then, after years of strength training and conditioning I have become a competitive endurance athlete, finishing top 5% in most all my running events. I am on a journey to completing an ironman years down the road and part of that journey is running a marathon. 

I met Brad Berman when my daughter Riley was in nursery school with his son Noah at the Westchester Jewish Center. Whenever we would meet, our conversations always involved our love for running. (What race did you do? What race are you doing?) As time went on, my daughter went to a different school and I didn’t see Brad. I was teaching yoga in Larchmont NYSC and saw his wife Jessica running on the treadmill. She informed me about what had happened to Brad. I was really devastated. Brad is an amazing individual and I am extremely proud to know him. I would be honored to run in the NYC marathon in 2014 in raising money for the lower limb robotics clinic at Burke Rehabilitation Center. 

To support Steve's run, click here.