BOSTON (CBS) – You’ve known Dick and Rick Hoyt for years. Now meet “The K-Girls.”
Kris and Kayla Biagiotti of Mendon are getting ready to make Boston Marathon history this year. The fearless mother-daughter duo conquered their first marathon in New Hampshire last fall, and are now ready for Boston.
When they cross the starting line — and shortly after that, the finish line — on April 15, they’ll become the first mother-daughter team to participate in the famous race.
“One of our goals was when Kayla turned 18 was to be able to run Boston together,” explained Kris. “It’s been part of her life growing up.”
Kayla, who was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease at the age of three, has been part of the Children’s Hospital’s Patient-Partner program since 2001. In the program, a member of the Credit Unions’ “Kids at Heart” marathon team is paired with a children’s patient as they run to raise funds for the hospital.
It was the doctors at Children’s who diagnosed Kayla when she was three, and they’ve been taking care of her all her life.
“We’ve undergone open-heart surgery; we’ve been in ICU being told Kayla wouldn’t survive. When she was diagnosed, they said she wasn’t going to live past 10. Here we are at 18 and she’s healthier than she’s ever been,” said Kris. “Doctors don’t know what to say, and you attribute that to the good care she’s had.”
Kris herself has survived two brain tumors, and in 2005, “the K-Girls” lost their husband and father – Bob – to a heart attack. Through it all, running has been a constant for Kris.
“It’s that kind of peace within the storm in our life, so to speak,” she said.
Now, the two are gearing up for their first Boston Marathon.
“It seems impossible,” Kris said of the thought of her and her daughter finally running Boston. “All these years I’ve watched the Hoyts run, and been amazed with everything they’ve done. But to think no other mother-daughter team has ever done it, it’s overwhelming in some respects.”
“She loves the marathon, she loves the running,” Kris said of Kayla. “She always gets to be at the finish line, so for her to go and do the whole thing is important for us, and part of the fabric of who we are — promoting inclusion and awareness for folks with disabilities.”
“Its a huge honor to be part of the history of that day,” Kris said as Kayla cracked a huge smile. “Where else could you go in this country and be part of a marathon where there’s thousands of people supporting you along the way, and no matter how difficult it is that day running, you have people out there cheering you on and wanting to be a part of it.”
This will be Kris’ seventh Boston Marathon, but first with her daughter. And it’s important to her that we all see their accomplishment as an opportunity for others.
“Because I have the ability to be out there and run, and Kayla may not have that ability to run a marathon, but being able to take her for a ride she still has the freedom of being in that chair and being part of the marathon just like any normal person could have,” said Kris. “Being able to promote that message of inclusion in the community and just remind our fellow citizens that there are a lot of people that could benefit from something like this.”
Kris says that Dick Hoyt has been encouraging her to run Boston for over two years and he even helped them find a racing chair for Kayla.
Tune in to the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 on WBZ-TV, the only station with start-to-finish coverage of the race!