Suffolk County

Duo team looking for strong finish at the B.A.A. 5k

BOSTON, Mass. — The Boston Marathon race weekend kicks off Saturday with the B.A.A. 5K. Ten thousand people will participate, including one duo team that has overcome long odds.

Jon Custodio and Amy Spindler have been putting in the miles training for the race. Jon is running as a wheelchair pusher for Amy, his wheelchair partner. “A lot of our training has really focused on how do you turn the chair? How do you navigate the bumps? How to use the hand brakes because there are no hand brakes on my running sneakers,” Jon said.

His duo partner is 29-years-old and lives in Ashland. Amy was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was 6 months old. Amy speaks with the assistance of a Tobii machine.

The machine tracks her eyes and uses a computerized voice to communicate her thoughts. “This is my 5th year running the B.A.A. 5K with Stepping Strong. It’s such an honor to be on the stepping Strong Team. We chose this team because I am a patient at Brigham and Women’s,” she said.

Jon and Amy are running for the Brigham and Women’s Stepping Strong Marathon Team. Funds raised by the team benefit the Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center For Trauma Innovation at the Brigham. The center was founded by the Reny family to honor the Brigham medical team that saved the life and limbs of their daughter, Gillian, who was critically injured in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. The mission of The Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center for Trauma Innovation is to catalyze multidisciplinary collaborations that inspire groundbreaking innovation, effective prevention, and compassionate intervention to transform care for civilians and military heroes who endure traumatic injuries and events.

Jon is also a former patient at the Brigham and an aneurysm survivor. In March 2020, a blood clot surrounding his spinal cord burst. He became paralyzed and doctors weren’t sure if he’d ever walk again. But after a month at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown and a year of therapy, Jon out ran the long odds. Doctors called it a miracle when he ran the Boston Marathon in October 2021.

This spring, he’s giving back by teaming up with Amy. “The doctors and nurses at Brigham and Women’s Hospital saved my life and gave me a second shot of having an able body and having the opportunity to share that with someone like Amy Spindler, who’s so passionate about those same doctors and same nurses. This has really been an incredible experience for me,” Jon said.

Jon says he hopes he and Amy will eventually compete in the Boston Marathon.

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