My name is Tami Shalvarjian and I am running the Boston Marathon and raising money for The Michael Lisnow Respite Center.

Many of you who know me well will attest to the fact that I am a bit crazy and sometimes have wild ideas. I have decided to run the 2013 Boston Marathon and will be running the marathon with personal performance goals, but just as importantly, am running for a charity that is near to my heart. Sometimes in life you get an unexpected opportunity, a chance to give back in a meaningful way, and this is mine.

I have three healthy teenagers that I have been truly able to enjoy without ever having to think about how I would take care of them on a daily basis with the demands of a physical or mental challenge. I feel very fortunate. My mother was not as fortunate. When she gave birth to my brother, he weighed less than two pounds. This was fifty years ago! He stayed in the hospital for months and my Mom was told the brain damage he had would affect his development throughout his life. I grew up watching my brother have seizures and other developmental challenges. My single Mom was the full time provider for my brother. However, being his caretaker has truly been a lifetime commitment for her.

Having a place that you can count on to get a “respite” or break from being the only caregiver is tremendous. I decided to run for The Michael Lisnow Respite Center. It is a unique and very special charity. The center is a beautiful home where families can bring their children and have a break from their personal marathon that is providing everyday care for their special needs child.

I truly appreciate each and every day that I am able to step out my front door and run. Whether it is to run with my friends, to compete in a race or to run almost daily with my good friend and training partner, it is a gift. What I see as a gift is something that is out of reach for kids with severe disabilities.

I looked at the many different charities to run for and I decided on the Michael Lisnow Center because I wanted to support a charity that I had a personal connection to and that I could have a significant impact on. At the respite center, there are so many programs offered and I hope that you will visit their website at www.hopkintonrespite.com . It is full of information and tells the beautiful and touching story of how their center began nearly 16 years ago.

With your support, I would love to be able to achieve my goal of raising $8,000 for The Michael Lisnow Respite Center. By the time I cross the finish line on April 15, 2013, I will have accomplished two very special goals: helping a great charity provide for very deserving families and also completing a very special and memorable marathon. Thank you in advance for your support!

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