Providence Medford physician joins run across U.S. to raise money for MS

Author: Jason Kuhl, M.D., chief medical officer, Providence Medford Medical Center

Laurie Dutkiewicz, D.O., an Emergency Department doctor at Providence Medford Medical Center, was chosen to participate in the annual MS Run the US event. She will be one of 19 people to complete a 3,260-mile ultra relay across America to raise money for MS research and treatment.

Dr. Dutkiewicz’s husband Robert has had multiple sclerosis for 24 years. When she learned about this run to help fight MS and the significant commitment it would entail, she talked to her husband about it.

“He said, ‘That’s you, that’s what you should do, and you should go for it,’” Dr. Dutkiewicz says.

Her portion of the race will go through Utah in May, covering 177 miles in seven days. That’s nearly a marathon a day for a full week. It’s unlike anything she’s ever done, it’s daunting … and we couldn’t be prouder of her.

Just because a runner wants to participate in the event, doesn’t mean they will get that opportunity. There are only 19 spots, and participants must go through an application process that includes several rounds of interviews, before even starting the rigorous physical training.

“They do have to be pretty picky,” Dr. Dutkiewicz says.

After passing the first set of interviews, Dr. Dutkiewicz spoke with the founder and executive director of the event, Ashley Schneider. A month or so later, an invitation to participate in the relay arrived in the mail.

Organizers provide a running coach and a training plan. Dr. Dutkiewicz has been running for the better part of 20 years. In medical school, she volunteered at camps for children with cancer and decided to run her first marathon to raise money for leukemia patients. She has since completed many marathons and ultramarathons.

Even so, MS Run the US is an altogether new challenge. Her leg of the relay will take her up above 7,000 feet of elevation in Utah. Fortunately, she enjoys running uphill.

“Just take it slow and steady,” she says.

Her inspiration also will be her biggest supporter as she runs through Utah. Her husband, who has completed three official half-marathons himself, will be walking and cycling beside her.

Dr. Dutkiewicz describes her husband as “a little bit of a unicorn.” He’s had MS for a very long time, but he remains active and passionate about diet and exercise. While the disease obviously takes a toll, he never complains.

“I find him inspiring,” she says.

Dr. Dutkiewicz was tasked with raising $10,000 as part of her participation in the event, a figure she’s already surpassed, but there is still time to give to this great cause. The money will go toward research, as well as supporting people living with MS, including movement devices and home modifications, to make their lives just a little bit easier.

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