Family Ready to "Run 4 Brad" in Vermont City Marathon

By Steph Machado

Published 05/22 2014 05:13AM

Updated 05/22 2014 01:32PM

BURLINGTON - When Dave and Vanessa Berman hit the pavement in Sunday's KeyBank Vermont City Marathon, they'll have one special person in mind--Dave's brother, Brad.

"Running was sort of our thing, that we shared," Dave said.

Brad Berman is a marathon runner himself. The two brothers ran the Vermont City Marathon together in 2011. But last August, Brad suffered a stroke that made it a challenge to even walk.

"He was actually training for the 2013 New York marathon when very suddenly one morning in his kitchen, he got what he described as the most severe headache of his life," Dave explained.

It was caused by a malformation of cells in Brad's brain called an AVM. He's probably had it his entire life, but didn't know.

As Brad started the grueling process of recovery, Dave found it difficult to lace up his sneakers.

"I had guilt," he said. "I was just in a rut. I was just depressed. Running being our thing, going out and doing it was hard." Less than a year later, he's running 26.2 miles in his brother's honor. His wife Vanessa is running a leg in the relay.

"I was never a runner," Vanessa said. "This experience has brought out the runner in me."

More family and friends are coming out to run on Sunday. It's all part of the "Run 4 Brad" movement, started spontaneously by a friend who was running on the beach.

"And just in the sand she wrote "Run 4 Brad" and took a picture of it," Vanessa said.

They've raised $250,000 in just a few months. It's all to build a lower-limb robotics clinic at Brad's rehab center in New York.

"To help people start re-learning the use of their extremities that were damaged from a stroke," Dave explained. The robotics clinic is already up and running, though it needs $600,000 total.

Jess Cover is the Communications Director for Run Vermont, which produces the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon. She says like the Bermans, so many Vermonters are running for a cause.

"Whether you're running for an official charity, or just running for a family member, you see a lot of people with names on their shirts," she said. She says it's the nature of a marathon itself that brings out the generosity in people.

"If someone is willing to put that hard work in, then someone else is willing to support you financially," she said.

Sunday, the Bermans not only hope to raise the rest of the money for the robotics clinic...but to motivate and inspire Brad to keep going.

"We really think the sky's the limit for him. And I want to think, and believe that he will be running again."

To donate to Brad and Vanessa's run and support the robotics clinic, click here.

To register to run on Sunday or volunteer, click here.

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