Reporting Stephanie Stahl
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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Forty-thousand people are expected for the Broad Street Run this weekend. Among them is a Montgomery county mom who has turned a devastating tragedy into inspiration.
Kate Zalesky’s baby boy Max was a charmer. At 13-months-old, he was just starting to talk and full of energy, until one day he became lethargic.
“We got to the hospital, and he was almost non-responsive,” said Kate.
Max had bacterial meningitis and was brain dead. Doctors said there was little hope.
“I remember telling him to just let go. And we were always better for him having been here. And that he did really good, and he didn’t have to fight anymore,” said Kate.
Max died hours later, in February of 2010.
His big brother, Donovan, was five then and has kept a box of mementos, including the phone Max loved to play with, and a lock of hair.
“He was funny. I loved him a lot,” said Donovan.
Kate was lost in grief and rage, and when a relative suggested running, it was physically painful for her.
“In that moment, I needed to hurt somewhere other than in my head and in my heart. I remember thinking that I was running away,” said Kate.
Eventually her body got stronger, and her heart wasn’t so heavy. The Broad Street Run will be her longest run ever at 10 miles.
She started with 5K’s for donor awareness since they had donated Max’s organs and tissue.
“It’s not very often that you get an opportunity to say that you made a huge, huge difference in this world, that you saved a life,” said Kate.
Now, 25-year-old Kate and her husband Nik have another baby. Two boys again, even though to them there will always be three. Max is always with them.
“I hope he sees that those boys are happy and they’re loved. They’re loved as much as we loved him,” said Kate.
The heartbreak will be there forever, but Kate says that through running, she’s healed and learned to live again.
“It kind of circled back to running towards something. It didn’t have to be this endless, you know, dusk and twilight of grief,” said Kate.
The family has set up the Max Moments Foundation to encourage and reward others to be a better person in honor of Max.