Going the distance

Photo: Dreamstime

For Northeastern University senior Bridgette Trometer, running in this year’s Boston Marathon is a very personal affair.

Her father, Thomas, diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago, is now in remission after being treated at Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Mass. When the race’s starting gun sounds on Monday, Trometer will be running to raise money for the Lahey cancer center.

An experienced indoor-track runner who’s long dreamed of tackling the Boston Marathon, Trometer began her long-distance training in January. Her memories of the caring professionals she’s met at Lahey helped her mentally prepare for the sheer number of miles she’d have to log to get ready for the big run.

“They helped my dad, and it’s my turn to give back to them,” she said.

Trometer joins the many members of the Northeastern community who will be running up Heartbreak Hill or volunteering on the sidelines. According to the Boston Athletic Association, more than 100 Northeastern students will volunteer their time and energies during the race — exemplifying the University’s commitment to community service and engagement.

The volunteers will do everything from providing medical assistance, to handing out water, to guiding runners along the course. In addition, two dozen students will work as a “Green Team” at the event, staffing recycling stations and patrolling the finish-line area to collect bottles and cans, and runners’ foil blankets.

Samuel Jenkins, a student in the College of Computer and Information Science’s information-assurance master’s program, will be operating old-school technology, working as an amateur radio operator. Jenkins will use ham radio to help medical volunteers get medical supplies, EMS assistance and wheelchairs for exhausted marathoners.

Jenkins, who received his amateur radio license in 1999, couldn’t tune in fast enough when he heard that Boston Marathon organizers were looking for amateur radio volunteers. “This gives me an opportunity to help in the community while practicing my hobby,” he said.

Though Jenkins is a first-time marathon volunteer, others — such as David Nolan, associate clinical professor of physical therapy in Bouvé College of Health Sciences — have made volunteering an annual tradition.

For the past 10 years, Nolan has assisted at the race as a physical therapist. On Monday, he will oversee all physical-therapy care for runners at the finish line, where 65 therapists and students, including 10 from Northeastern, will be stationed in medical tents.

According to Nolan, marathon runners are commonly treated for hyperthermia, hypothermia, dehydration, fatigue and muscle cramping. Last year, around 2,000 runners were treated in the tents.

Nolan enjoys the time he devotes to the marathon. “Most people who get involved in health care and medicine have a passion to help people, so it’s been a tremendous group to be a part of,” he said. “There’s a great responsibility and attachment to the race among the health community.”

He’s also seen the experience be a great opportunity for student volunteers. “The students meet people from all over the world,” Nolan said, “and get to work with a physical therapist within a team environment.”