When Kara Bennorth thinks about her work at Westchester Medical Center, she feels overwhelming gratitude for the chance to serve alongside others at the century-old organization. “The people here do fantastic things both in and out of their work shifts,” says Bennorth, WMC’s Chief Administrative Officer. “I’m just so privileged to be part of them.”
Running is one activity Bennorth cherishes outside of her normal work shift and, next month, she will join nine other WMCHealth employees, which include a therapist and a psychiatry resident, who have trained for months to tackle the 26.2 New York City Marathon on November 4 in order to raise funds for the hospital.
For Bennorth and the other runners, the marathon is a prime opportunity to honor both the hospital’s patients as well as its dedicated workforce. It’s also a great team-building activity. “First and foremost, we hope to create a sense of pride within the organization and raise awareness about the organization,” says Bennorth. “I run in honor of my patients, certainly; but we wouldn’t have patients without our workforce. So that’s why I dedicate my run, and everything I’ve done up to that point, to our workforce.”
Conveniently, the marathon allows Bennorth to combine her personal and professional life. “My kids are both in college and I work a lot, so running has always been a great way for me to stay in relatively ok shape,” she notes. “I run by the reservoirs where I live and it gives me time to de-stress. So, putting that all together and then aligning it with my job is the best of both worlds. I get to do something I love and I get to do it in honor of something I love.”
Money raised during the marathon will aid WMC in its lifesaving mission at its 10 Hudson Valley hospitals. The hospital is currently seeking donations through a CrowdRise site. “I would like the money to go to our Caregiver Program,” adds Bennorth. “It’s a new program and center that provides rest and respite in a quiet area for family members when they need a little down time. They can shower, take a nap, reconnect, or disconnect. The Caregiver center is also for the members of our workforce, who are caregivers as well. It serves anyone in need of a little down time or a kind word.”
In the weeks before the race, Bennorth has been shaping up with a 12-week training program and regular long runs “I’m up to 18 [miles]. After that I’ll go to 20,” she says with a smile. “I’ve been running almost everyday, doing hill work almost every week, and other cross training as well. Also, I’ve been working on hydration. I have to keep myself feeling good.”
Beyond the race, Bennorth is also extremely optimistic about the future of WMC. “We have a lot of continued growth to do within our network and some big projects on the pipeline,” she says. “We’re closing in on the end of [a major construction effort] and doing projects up and down Hudson Valley, raising money for those projects, and really getting in touch with the community around work that hospitals do… We are really trying to work not just by ourselves, but with a whole group of other people to create a collective impact that we hope can make a difference in the health and wellness of residents in the Hudson Valley.”