One Step At a Time

Running 26.2 miles means so much to this mother and daughter

Mother Irene Walborsky and Daughter Emily Moss at BirthWeighing just two pounds at birth, Emily Moss spent the first ten weeks of her life in Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center's Klarman Family Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). For her mother, Irene Walborsky, those weeks felt like years. Day by day, through the care of an expert clinical team that thoughtfully balanced high-tech treatments with compassionate support, baby Emily gained weight and grew stronger. April 23, 1997, is a date her family will always remember: it's the day she went home.

Even as she faced a myriad of health issues throughout her childhood and early adolescence, Moss remained strong and determined — never shying away from a challenge. The recent Wellesley College graduate will once again put her strength to the test by running the 2020 Boston Marathon as a member of Team BIDMC. As she endures months of rigorous training for the 26.2 mile run, she is raising vital funds in support of the NICU.

"The doctors had warned my family that I might not make it, but thanks to the NICU's extraordinary care, I am healthy and active today," says Moss, who sees training for the marathon — and raising money for the NICU — as her opportunity to give back to the hospital. "By running the marathon, I want to show NICU parents that their own infants can one day reach their own goals and experience their own successes."

As a former NICU parent, Walborsky remembers dealing with many frightening unknowns after her daughter's birth. "I thought, Will my baby walk? Will my baby talk? Will my baby lead a normal life? It was such a scary time," says Walborsky. "I'm so proud of Emily for taking on this unbelievable challenge. She is an inspiring example to the families of NICU infants who are facing these same terrifying questions."

Over the years, Moss and Walborsky have expressed their gratitude to the NICU in numerous ways. As part of her bat mitzvah service project, Moss knitted and delivered tiny baby caps for NICU patients. More recently, Walborsky made a gift to support research on the optimal nutritional needs of pre-term infants.

Mother Irene Walborsky and Daughter Emily Moss as Adults"I've never been one to talk about my birth story," says Moss, who now works as an economics research assistant at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. "So when I opened up about why I am running the marathon, my friends were surprised to learn about how I came into the world." Something that wasn't surprising to them, however, is Moss' determination to face the notoriously difficult race course in September. She is especially eager to see — and hear — the thousands of cheering spectators who gather at Wellesley College, her and her mother's beloved alma mater.

Twenty-three years ago, Moss' BIDMC respiratory therapist gave Walborsky a small memento, a card stamped with an imprint of her daughter's exceptionally tiny foot. "To think that same foot is now going to run 26.2 miles is truly an inspiration," says Walborsky. "I am grateful to Dr. DeWayne Pursley [chief of the Department of Neonatology and director of the Klarman Family NICU] and the unit's amazing nurses, social workers, and staff. They made all of Emily's many victories possible. BIDMC will always have a place in our hearts."

Donate today to support Emily Moss' Boston Marathon run as part of Team BIDMC.