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Jose Rivero of the Cardiac EchoLab, races across the finish line, while Susan Jackiewicz, of the Watkins Cardiovascular Clinic, cycles 26.2 miles during the triathlon. Photos by Justin Ide.
It was probably the only way Ken Baughman, MD, would have wished to be remembered.
That’s what his wife Cheryl told the 56 members of Team Baughman after they completed an Olympic-distance triathlon Aug. 29 in honor of the beloved cardiologist, who died in a car accident last year. An avid triathlete, Baughman always practiced the healthy lifestyle he preached to patients and colleagues.
“Ken’s death left a huge, empty hole in our hearts and lives, but there are strong hearts here today—strong from the training, strong from the memory of Ken and the inspiration he gives us,” Debra Rogers, executive director of the Shapiro Cardiovascular Center, told the team before the Cranberry Trifest kicked off. “With each stroke, kick, spin, stride and breath; with strength, with power, with relentless determination, you will honor Ken.”
Team Baughman, made up of staff, patients and friends, gathered in a tent close to the finish line, cheering each other on and sharing stories about Baughman with his wife and each other.
“People were talking about Ken all day long,” said Norma Osborn, nurse practitioner, who, at the doctor’s urging, participated in two previous Cranberry Trifests with several colleagues. “There was great team spirit; it was Ken’s spirit of ‘we can do this, we are doing this.’”
That was certainly true for Michelle Ricci, who originally thought completing a triathlon was out of her reach.
“I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do it, but when I crossed the finish line, I had this huge sense of accomplishment,” said Ricci, a new patient coordinator in the Watkins Cardiovascular Clinic. “Having the support of the team and the team’s trainer and, of course, to be able to carry on the legacy that Dr. Baughman loved, made this a great experience.”
Ricci competed as an individual, while many others formed relay teams. Osborn was part of a relay team, swimming .9 miles while her colleague Debbie Page, nurse practitioner, ran 6.2 miles and heart transplant recipient Richard Gates completed the 26.2-mile bicycle leg of the race.
Gates actually biked 780 miles from Cleveland to Boston the week prior to the triathlon, concluding Tour de Second Chance, a ride he established to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation. He dedicated this year’s ride—his second—to Baughman, whom he said “literally and poetically touched my heart so many times.”
Cardiac Surgery Nurse Coordinator Suellen Breakey, PhD, RN, competed as an individual and is already planning her training for next year. “I definitely will do this again,” she said. “We all were there to support and encourage each other, and everyone felt that it was a true celebration of Dr. Baughman’s life.”
Heart transplant recipient Richard Gates, second from left, is joined by his surgeon, Gregory Couper, MD, his nurse pracitioner Debbie Page, NP, and his pre-transplant nurse practitioner Norma Osborn, NP. Photo by Barbara Gates.
As a lasting tribute to Kenneth Baughman, MD, BWH has established The Kenneth L. Baughman Master Clinician in Cardiovascular Medicine. Made possible through the generosity of his many friends, colleagues and former patients, this endowed fund will support a rising BWH cardiologist who has a passion for patient care, teaching, mentoring and clinical research. The Kenneth L. Baughman Master Clinician will be conferred upon a cardiologist in the early stages of professional development within the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine. The recipient will share the ideals that Dr. Baughman lived by—valuing time spent with patients and teaching young faculty.
If you would like to make a gift to advance this effort, visit brighamandwomens.org/developmentor contact Maura Lynch in BWH Development at 617-424-4366. Donations can also be sent to Maura Lynch at 116 Huntington Avenue, 5th Floor, Boston, MA 02116.