Published in: Boston Herald
Written by: Chris Mason
In the aftermath of the 2013 bombings, the Boston Marathon has become a place where runners congregate to cope with tragedy. Victims will take on the 26.2-mile course alongside countless others who use running as a tool to overcome a myriad of losses.
Sorrel King will be taking on Heartbreak Hill for the first time today. For King, running was crucial in overcoming the loss of her 18-month-old daughter, Josie.
“When my daughter died, running in some ways .?.?. saved my life,” King said. “And running has helped me throughout, just as it does for everyone who is a runner.”
In 2001, Josie King suffered second-degree burns that covered over half of her body following a water heater malfunction at the family’s Maryland home. She was admitted to Johns Hopkins Hospital, and suffered from severe dehydration. While there, she fell victim to oversedation. One morning it got to the point that her doctor ordered she no longer be given any more methadone.
Later in the day, a nurse came in with a syringe filled with the painkiller. The nurse assured Sorrel King that orders regarding her daughter had changed despite the doctor’s earlier recommendation, and that she was to administer the medication.
“I said to myself, ‘Do I run up to the nurse and knock the methadone out of her hand and scream for help?’?” King said. “Or do I say, ‘I’m at the best hospital in the country?’?”
The mother put her faith in the doctors, and shortly after the injection her child’s heart stopped beating. Josie King suffered severe brain damage, and ultimately Sorrel King and her husband had no choice but to take her off of life support.
Running was what Sorrel King turned to.
“For me, it’s how running got me out of a tragedy,” King said. “I think tragedy brings people together. Tragedy in some respects I’ve learned brings out the best in people. Running helped me deal with my tragedy. I think running helped me, and helps people deal with life. It really, really helped me deal with my tragedy. I think with what happened a couple years ago in Boston, that’s what makes this even more — for everyone, not just me, for everyone I think — more meaningful. It’s about tragedy and running.”
As a result of the medical error, King was awarded a settlement. She was reluctant to take it, but ultimately decided to form a foundation in her daughter’s memory.
“Hopkins gave us money,” King said. “For a long time we didn’t want to accept the money because we felt like accepting the money was letting them off the hook. Then our lawyer said take the money: Money is power. You can do something for Josie, and that’s exactly what we did. With some of the money from the settlement we created the Josie King Foundation.”
The foundation strives to curb medical errors and works with hospitals to streamline communication between doctors. According to King, 98,000 people die from preventable errors annually.
King is generally uncomfortable asking for money, but will be accepting donations for her foundation (www.josieking.org) for the first time at the 119th running of Boston’s oldest race. It will be her fourth marathon in the last 18 months.
Today, King won’t be alone as she strides to overcome grief and anger.
“It had to be Boston for the foundation,” King said. “I want the people that I’m asking for money to know that I sacrificed myself for this.”
Click here to read the article on the Boston Herald.