Dr. Christina Fergus is a family physician in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Her connection to the American Red Cross began under tragic circumstances. When Christina was in fourth grade, her family’s house burnt down. The Red Cross provided her family with basic necessities in the immediate aftermath to help them get through the difficult time and reestablish themselves. Those necessities included a simple blanket.
“Kids are concrete. They like stuff,” Christina explained. “I remember being in fourth grade and suddenly not having anything. I clung to that blanket.”
She kept the blanket all the way through her college years at Michigan Tech, until “it was so old it basically fell apart.”
Christina’s connection to the Red Cross deepened during her career in the Navy, which spanned eight years of active duty and eight more years of inactive reserve service. In 2003, she served as a lieutenant aboard a ship with a crew of 500 (a small ship by her standards) in the Persian Gulf. In addition to her numerous duties as a doctor, Christina sat down with any crewmember receiving an emergency message from home. The Red Cross served as liaison for such urgent messages (and still does).
Christina recalled, “Unfortunately it was mostly bad news. But there were a few births too. It was always fun to share those. It was a blessing to have the American Red Cross there for support to help families connect in times of need.”
Christina’s running career began on a whim. She celebrated her 40th birthday by running the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon.
“During the run I thought, ‘I’m never doing this again.’ But my husband and I got addicted. Then we just kept doing it more and more.”
To date, Christina has run six marathons. This will be her first Boston experience.
“I just thought, if I’m going to run marathons, I have to go to Boston.”
In an early attempt, she missed qualifying competitively by an agonizing seven seconds, but remained positive. She knew it was still early in her running career and she would get faster and try again. Then her husband (also a 2016 Team Red Cross runner) suggested running for a charity.
“To raise money for a cause, I have to feel a personal connection,” Christina explained. “The Red Cross was the only choice.”
The couple joined the more than 60 members of Team Red Cross who will run the historic 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston. The team’s stated mission is to “help to save and transform the lives of people in their greatest time of need.”
Training through the Wisconsin winter has not been easy.
“I don’t love running twenty miles on a treadmill,” Christina stated bluntly. “But I do it.”
Running has become a family institution in the Fergus household. Christina and her husband offset their running schedules so that they can balance the demands of their training, family, and jobs.
“We want to make sure we both give equal time to our training so that we’re putting forth our best effort. We do it because we love it.”
Their two daughters, ages 8 and 10, will soon run their first 5k.
Christina’s Team Red Cross experience began with a desire to “take running and make it bigger than me.” In addition to raising money for the Red Cross, Christina hopes her marathon effort raises awareness for public health issues she encounters every day.
“I spend a lot of my work time dealing with the obesity crisis. I want people to understand that I’m not asking them to run the Boston marathon. I’m asking them walk ten minutes a day.”
When Christina comes down Boylston Street on April 18th, her competitive spirit will be as strong as her desire to support a great cause.
“I’ll be so happy that I’m crossing that finish line. And I hope my time is good enough to requalify. I want do better than I’ve ever done before. I want to run my best race.”