Team Eye and Ear–Meet Chris, Liz, and Robert!

Today you will meet the final Team Eye and Ear members who are running for Operation Airway!  Meet Dr. Hartnick, his wife Liz, and his old college roommate Robert!




Here’s what drives them to donate their time and support to such a wonderful cause:

Dr. Hartnick:

Dr. Christopher Hartnick, Director of the Pediatric Otolaryngology Division at Mass. Eye and Ear, is running his fourth marathon with Team Eye and Ear. In 2013, he and his wife Liz were just blocks away when the events unfolded. He is back to finish the race he started a year ago and to raise funds for Mass. Eye and Ear’s pediatric laryngology lab, which works translate scientific research into practical ways of helping children breathe and speak without a tracheotomy. Dr. Hartnick is also raising funds to support Operation Airway, an annual pediatric airway surgery mission to Ecuador. He is joined on Team Eye and Ear by his wife, Liz again this year.


This will be Liz’s second marathon with Team Eye and Ear. In 2013, she was just blocks away when the events unfolded. Liz is inspired to run by her husband, Dr. Christopher Hartnick, Director of Pediatric Otolaryngology at Mass. Eye and Ear. Liz is running to raise funds for pediatric airway research and patient care, including Operation Airway, an annual pediatric airway surgery mission to Ecuador.


Robert joins Team Eye and Ear for his fifth Boston Marathon. As a parent of a Mass. Eye and Ear patient, Robert understands the importance of patient care. Robert is teaming up with his former college roommate, Dr. Christopher Hartnick (also on Team Eye and Ear) to raise funds for pediatric airway research and patient care.

We would love to see you on Patriots’ Day, Monday, April 21, supporting our runners and supporting a wonderful cause!  Join us if you can!

Team Eye and Ear–Meet Dean and Patrick!

 Here are two more of our all-stars from the Operation Airway team at Mass Eye and Ear!  Meet Dean Fairchild and Patrick Williams!

 dean                          patrick

 Find out what inspired them to be a part of this experience!


Dean was inspired to join Team Eye and Ear by his neighbor, Dr. Christopher Hartnick, Director of the Pediatric Otolaryngology Division at Mass. Eye and Ear. He loves the discipline that running provides and is excited to join Dr. Hartnick and other members of the Team in investing in Mass. Eye and Ear’s mission. This will be Dean’s first marathon.


Patrick runs for his hero, his grandmother Kay Porter. The two were together at the finish line during last year’s horrific tragedy, while waiting for his sister to finish her first Boston marathon. Patrick says, “My grandmother was as brave as any that day. I would not be the person I am today without her, and she solidified and reiterated that notion within me on April 15th, 2013.” Patrick was inspired to join Team Eye and Ear after the events of that tragic day, and also after witnessing his sister’s passion for her job. Brittany is a pediatric nurse, on Dr. Hartnick’s team, at Mass. Eye and Ear. “She is truly passionate about her job and cares deeply about the people she works with, so it has inspired me to help her in making a difference this year with Team Eye and Ear.” This April marks Patrick’s second marathon and first Boston Marathon.

If you are wondering how to support any of the runners who are part of the Operation Airway team, visit followed by/NAME OF TEAM MEMBER

All donations go directly to the Operation Airway mission funds.

You’ll meet the last three runners tomorrow, just in time for the Boston Marathon which will be held on Monday, April 21st, Patriots’ Day!

Team Eye and Ear–Meet Matt and Jillian!

Since the marathon is just around the corner, you will start meeting two team members each day this week!  Today, you will meet Matt Brigger and Jillian DeBusk!

brigger                 DeBusk

 Here’s some more information on our two generous and enthusiastic team members!


A pediatric otolaryngologist in the US Navy, Matt is returning to Team Eye and Ear for the third time and his ninth marathon. Matt was a fellow Mass. Eye and Ear in 2007-2009 and was thrilled to run the Boston Marathon last year with his close friends and former colleagues. He finished before the tragic bombings at the finish line and decided to run again as soon as he confirmed everyone he knew was safe. “The opportunity to raise funds with some of my close friends for a great cause at a great institution is unbelievable,” he explains. “While I was at Mass. Eye and Ear I witnessed the ‘anything is possible’ concept every day.” Matt has taken that idea of ‘anything is possible’ and applied it to his whole life. 


A special education teacher at the Carroll School, Jillian will be fulfilling a “bucket list” dream of completing the Boston Marathon. She is inspired by the work done at Mass. Eye and Ear and will be running to raise funds for Operation Airway. The Team Eye and Ear member is a fitness enthusiast who turned to running after a devastating skiing accident. Jillian says that nothing brings her quite as much joy as running along Commonwealth Avenue past the Johnny Kelley statue, ahead of target pace and trading smiles with fellow runners. The sport of running has empowered her to change the way she views herself and how her contributions can make a difference in the lives of others. 

Two more to come tomorrow!!

Team Eye and Ear–Meet Peggy!

As promised, we introduce the another member of the Operation Airway/MEEI team!  Meet Peggy Kelley!



Peggy is a veteran of our team, and here’s her message to you:


This will be my fifth year running the Boston Marathon with Team Eye and Ear. I work as a nurse in the operating room taking care of some of our smallest patients.  I’m fortunate to work with a great team of nurses, surgeons and anesthesia providers who care for children with disorders of the airway.  Together we traveled to Ecuador as part of Operation Airway where we worked with the medical community teaching them to care for these difficult airway patients. I’m excited to be part of Team Eye and Ear again this year especially after the terrible events of last year’s race. Together we will finish what we started!

Tomorrow we will introduce yet another Operation Airway–Team Eye and Ear member, so keep an eye out for it!

Team Eye and Ear–Meet Brittany!

As promised, we introduce the first member of the Operation Airway/MEEI team!  Meet Brittany Williams!


Brittany returns to Team Eye and Ear in 2014 for her second Boston marathon. Unable to continue past mile 25.8 last year, she is grateful for the opportunity to finish what she started in 2013. She will run alongside her brother, Patrick Williams, a new 2014 Team Eye and Ear member. Brittany explains, “The events that occurred that day helped us learn to cherish each day. Our relationships with family and friends have grown stronger and running continues to motivate us.” Brittany, a pediatric ENT nurse at Mass. Eye and Ear, cares for children with airway disorders. She will be raising funds for Operation Airway, which consists of a group of specialists who travel to Ecuador. These physicians, nurses, anesthesiologists and others, perform life-changing airway reconstructive surgery and postoperative care to children who cannot breath or speak on their own.

Come back tomorrow to meet another wonderful member of our team!!

Time for the Marathon!

It’s that time of year again!  The Boston Marathon will take place on April 21, 2014.  The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary has been raising money through participation in the marathon for the past 8 years, and this year is no exception!  With over 100 people from MEEI participating, this year will remain special in the hearts of all Bostonians, runners and spectators alike. 

Within Team Eye and Ear, a subset of people will be running specifically to raise money for Operation Airway.  Here’s the team after a run!


Each day we will feature a different runner so you can get to know our team better!

If you are interested in helping the cause, get more information at:

Stay tuned for daily updates on our awesome team!

Day 3-Time for clinic!

Day 3 was the day to prepare for the next mission, which means time for clinic!  You might ask, how do the patients make it into our clinic?  Here is your answer:



This is the amazing organization in Ecuador that has worked with us through the hospital to fund these patients who may not otherwise get treated.  The generosity and hospitality shown by these wonderful people is awe-inspiring.  A special shout-out goes to Susana Vallejo and Caridad Ramirez, two people in administration who stayed by our side during the long days and accepted patients on the spot to have their surgeries done on the same day as consultation!  We could not have done this without you!

While our clinic was filled with a variety of pediatric and adult otolaryngologic patients, this was the time for our speech pathologist to shine.  Sarah had people lined up out the door for feeding evaluations, from questions of aspiration to oral aversion, from children who have had previous airway surgery to babies with just don’t seem to eat right.  Any parents reading this blog can relate to the frustration and desperation felt when your child will not or cannot eat without problems.  Families were so grateful for Sarah’s advice and adjunct feeding instruments, like special nipples and sippy cups (things that are so readily available to us in the USA); many mothers broke down in tears when they saw how well their children did when they had the right diet and feeding device.  Carolina, a local speech pathologist who joined our mission group to learn from Sarah, was amazing, as she broke the language barrier while developing skills that would allow her to have a similar speech pathology set-up in Ecuador.  Here are just a few of the day’s highlights:

20131107_111115                    20131106_140055

And remember our little friend Marcel with Tetralogy of Fallot and subglottic stenosis who had a tracheotomy?  Even he got the chance to eat more comfortably with his trach after Sarah evaluated him.  What a sweet boy and a wonderful family!



After clinic, the hospitality and generosity continued, but this time in a different way.  Dr. Ernesto Quinones who you met previously, the pediatric pulmonologist on the team from Ecuador arranged a wonderful dinner so that we could celebrate our success and reminisce about the missions past.  Here are the founding fathers of Operation Airway, Drs. Ernesto Quinones, Christopher Hartnick, and Natan Noviski; and in the second picture, our most involved parent, Bernardo Tamayo, an advocate for parents and patients in his community.

photo 2-3    photo 1-3

Another wonderful day in Quito!