Sometimes tragedy can lead to change that makes a difference in other people’s lives. Meagan Dubosky found that to be true for her.
After Dubosky lost her mother to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, she made a big change.
Dubosky was living in Colorado and pursuing a career as a project manager for a large ski resort when she got word that her mother had pneumonia. She went to be with her mom whose condition advanced quickly.
It finally became apparent that her mother had been misdiagnosed, but it was too late to attempt any alternative treatment. Her 54-year-old mother died three weeks later. After her mother’s death, Dubosky was inspired to change careers and started looking for respiratory therapy education opportunities.
“When I found one of the top programs was at Rush University, I moved here,” Dubosky says.
She and her husband and three children moved to Wheaton.
“My youngest was 3 years old when I started,” Dubosky says. “It was a huge career change, but it was what I wanted to do.”
She finished her degree in 2013 and is now an assistant professor in the program. A year ago, Dubosky founded the Kathleen Mai Endowed Research Fund so that students would have support for research in the field.
Her inspiring story was enough for Zachary Balluff, of Sugar Grove, to get involved.
Balluff says Dubosky’s enthusiasm for the fund has prompted students to raise about $33,000 so far through raffles, restaurant partnerships, happy hours, wrist band sales and whatever other ideas they could imagine.
“We need to have at least $50,000 to endow the fund,” says Balluff, who is the president of the Respiratory Care Student Government at Rush University.
A run at Danada led to some more inspiration — on his part this time.
“We came up with the idea of a run, and I remembered running once at Danada,” he says. “It is a beautiful location with trees, water, wonderful trails. There is no street running or crossing intersections — just a great trail to follow.”
On Saturday, April 19, the run/walk event Miles To Go will kick off at Danada in Wheaton. The fundraiser will benefit respiratory research at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
The day will include a 5K and a 10K run, as well as a fun run for children. A DJ will provide music, and there will be activities for children. Food and refreshments will be available.
Balluff says he’s not the only one to be inspired by Dubosky’s fundraising effort.
“One of the students here, Sarah Brundidge, is running a 54-mile ultra-marathon,” he says. “She is running 1 mile for every year of Kathleen Mai’s life. She has been training for weeks to get ready. She is going to run the last 2 miles on the inner track so everyone can cheer her on to the finish.”
Wheaton resident David Vines, the director of the respiratory care program at Rush University, has agreed to ride his bike alongside Brundidge to provide her with water and nourishment as needed.
“She has family members coming from out of state to cheer her on and run the race, too,” Balluff says.
Balluff hopes others will be inspired to run, too.
“Having this fund would open so many doors for research,” Balluff notes. “With the population living longer, lung issues are becoming more apparent. So many people now have COPD and other conditions. There is a need to do research to find more ways to help improve the quality of life for these people.”
Rush University is one of three entry-level master of science respiratory care programs in the country. With 60 students in the program, it is one of the largest. To earn the final degree, every student has to complete research. This fund will help defray the costs of meaningful research for the students, Balluff says.
Balluff hopes Miles To Run will become an annual event. Now that’s inspirational.
If you go
What: Miles To Go, a 5K/10K run to support the Kathleen Mai Research Fund at Rush University
Where: Danada forest preserve, 3s580 Naperville Road, Wheaton
When: Saturday, April 19. Check-in begins at 9 am. and the first heats begin at 10 a.m. A children’s fun run begins at 1 pm. Refreshments and entertainment will be offered on the race infield from noon until 3 pm.
After party: An honor-the-run celebration is scheduled at Mullen’s Bar and Grill, 3080 Warrenville Road, Lisle, beginning at 4 p.m. Ten percent of receipts will be donated to the fund if the race is mentioned.
Learn more: Race details available at