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Canadian Fire-Fighter Runs Marathon To Raise Money For Babies In NICU

It requires months of practice, perseverance, passion, training, and strength to run a marathon. A Kingston firefighter added a twist to it by running the 49 kilometres in a complete firefighting costume.

The costume weighs over 20 pounds, to add on, the steel-toe boots are simply not comparable for running, and the helmet in no way allows the same freedom of motion as most runners get. But, Joseph Reid, a member of Kingston Fire and Rescue, ran with it as he wanted to support those who have helped in saving his twin daughter's life.

Reid’s daughters, Cayden and Callie, were preemies born at 27 weeks, weighing only 1 lb. 8oz. and 2 lbs. 1oz. They had to spend the first 100 days of their lives in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Kingston General Hospital. Reid credits that time and the care of the dedicated neonatal team at KGH for his two bright, healthy, and happy girls.

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This father ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October to raise funds and awareness for the unit, which has been the first home for his daughters - the NICU at Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC). And his good intentions were rewarded - with the help of the community and generous donations, he could present a cheque to the unit on Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. Reid said, “I think that today kind of feels like we’re paying them back – or starting to pay them back – for everything they’ve done for us.”

The heaviness of the dress resulted in bruises by the end of the race, but Reid enthusiastically says that everything seems “trivial when compared to what the team at the NICU provided” for his family.

Dr. Bob Connelly, a neonatologist and program director for pediatrics at KGH, discussed that though their NICU is one of the only five NICU’s in the province, it doesn’t receive any Government funding for new equipment. But, they ensure to provide incomparable care for infants from not only the Kingston area but also for many parents in need of such care throughout eastern and northern Ontario.

During the cheque presentation, Dr. Connelly said, “As you can imagine, neonatal intensive care requires a lot of equipment, such as ventilators, monitors, IV pumps, that sort of thing. The direct result of donations like this is it enables us to buy that lifesaving medical equipment.” He also thanked Reid for a donation of over $16,000 as it is “a real testament to the support we get from the community.”

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Reid shared his memories of the training period and how he went about it first, running in the gear only once a week. But, by the second week, he ran in full gear always - often he has been offered help too! In words of Dr. Connel, being at the bedside caring for very sick and fragile babies is a tough job, and "it’s very touching when a former family comes back to give back to other families.”

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