Hamilton’s Barbara Vanderwilden is listed as runner number 22,678 at this year’s Boston Marathon, and the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress will benefit from every step she takes towards the finish line.
Vanderwilden, who has lived in Hamilton for 11 years after growing up in the North End of Boston, is running her one and only Boston Marathon on April 18 to raise money for the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress.
Vanderwilden’s biggest fans are her husband John, her nine-year old daughter Emily and seven-year old son Maximus, who was born with Down syndrome.
“The message of MDSC is to promote awareness and help to promote inclusion of children born with Down syndrome into the mainstream,” Vanderwilden said. “Maximus and other children are accomplishing great things and Max is fully integrated into his first grade classes at the Winthrop School.”
Vanderwilden ran the New York City Marathon in 2008, and finished in 5:02. She's training hard and hopes to finish Boston this year in 4:30.
Maximus and Emily both attend the in Hamilton, Max is in first grade and Emily is in fourth grade.
“My goal is to break five hours this year,” Vanderwilden said, “I want to have a strong time and improve on New York, but I’ve got more important things happening than just time when I run this year.”
Vanderwilden works for Weeden Investments in Boston, and hops up out of bed at 5 a.m. to begin her training sessions. Sometimes Max doesn’t want mom to leave, but he knows his mom is getting ready to race Boston 2011 for a good cause.
To get fit and ready to run, Vanderwilden attends the Boston Beantown Boot Camp run by John Wayman. Her brother Gary Forziati is also running Boston 2011. She ran the NYC marathon to raise funds for Children’s Hospital in 2008, and is well on her way to raise $15,000 for MDSC this year.
“I get out on the roads with Beantown Boot Camp four to five times a week to prepare for the marathon,” Vanderwilden said. “We do strength training, run, run the hills, do a lot of cardiovascular activity, there are eight people in my group and we’re training very hard.”
Vanderwilden said her brother trains with her too.
“We push each other along, I’m only running Boston once, and I’m determined to run well and help a good cause that has directly impacted my family.”
Training in Hamilton and Wenham in the winter has been tough, she said.
"It’s cold, there are obstacles, but it’s a beautiful area to train in,” Vanderwilden said. “It’s so peaceful and beautiful, you’ve just got to avoid the cars and there’s no problem.”
Her family skis in the winter so she hasn’t run Boston yet, "but I’m very determined to have a good run this year,” Vanderwilden said from her office on Tuesday.
“I want it to be chilly this year, below 60 degrees, reminiscent of my runs in Hamilton, Wenham and Sugar Hill, N.H.,” she said.
Vanderwilden combines weight training at Beantown twice a week to go with her road work.
“I’m a solitary trainer, I get up and do my work and get ready for the race, John (Wayman, the director of Beantown Boot Camp) really takes it personally if you don’t give it your best effort when you're training,” Vanderwilden said.
Her fundraising goal is in sight.
“Any time I don’t feel like running I remember my obligation to MDSC and the people who have sponsored me,” she said.
Vanderwilden will get cued up at the starting line in Hopkinton on April 18, ready to break five hours and raise funds for and awareness of Down syndrome. If you would like to pledge money to her, visit Vanderwilden's marathon page.
“I’m very happy to do this for MDSC, I’m running one Boston Marathon, and I hope to raise over $15,000 and finish in 4:30,” she said.