From left: Joyce, David and Marissa Petersile

This is the final installment in a weekly BWH Bulletin series profiling runners participating in this year’s Boston Marathon with BWH’s Stepping Strong Marathon Team on Monday, April 16.

One week before the 2018 Boston Marathon, David Petersile took a drive through downtown Hopkinton, passing by the iconic starting line of the race. He reflected on what it will feel like to gather there with his wife, Joyce, and daughter, Marissa, a few days later when they begin their 26.2-mile journey to Copley Square while supporting a cause close to their hearts.

“Having the opportunity to run the Boston Marathon with Joyce and Marissa is a dream come true for me,” said David. “Being able to share the experience – the exhilaration, the rush of adrenaline and even the pain – creates a deep bond.”

The Stoughton family will participate in this year’s Boston Marathon as part of the Stepping Strong Marathon Team, raising funds to support innovation in trauma research and care at BWH and beyond.

While David, Joyce and Marissa have each run the Boston Marathon before, they said it will be meaningful to run together for the first time and to do so on behalf of an institution expanding the boundaries of trauma research and care. 

This will be David and Joyce’s second year running the marathon with the Stepping Strong Marathon Team and Marissa’s first. Upon learning of Gillian Reny’s experience and her family’s mission, and having experienced firsthand the exceptional care BWH provides, the Petersiles said they were eager to support Stepping Strong. Several years ago, Joyce’s father received care at the Brigham for a traumatic head injury following a car accident.

“I am honored to fundraise for an institution that supports those suffering from trauma with such amazing care and grace,” Joyce said. “As a mom, it’s heartwarming to see Gillian’s mother and the entire Reny family turn tragedy into hope.”

Marissa became interested in running for the Stepping Strong Team after seeing her parents’ faces “light up” whenever they spoke about their fundraising events and team outings. Now, she looks forward to wearing her Stepping Strong team jersey with pride this Marathon Monday. 

“I hope someone sees my shirt and is inspired to run next year for a cause close to their heart,” Marissa said. “I’d love to pass along that excitement of supporting something I’m passionate about.”

For Joyce, whose father passed away in 2010, the experience will be fulfilling and emotional. “I always carry my father in my heart,” she said. “I feel his spirit pushing me along as I run. Having the opportunity to run for him and the Brigham is amazing.”

The Petersiles said they’ve enjoyed training as a family this year and seeing familiar faces on the Stepping Strong team, as well as getting to know the new runners. They’ve even found enjoyment running in the cold weather. Marissa said she’s soaking up every moment she can get with her parents throughout this rare experience.

“We’ve had a wonderful time training together for this year’s marathon,” Marissa said. “It’s uncommon to have the opportunity to run the Boston Marathon with your parents. We will step strong, together.” 

About Stepping Strong

The Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center for Trauma Innovation was established by the Reny family to honor the BWH caregivers who saved their daughter Gillian’s life and legs in the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. Five years after the tragedy, the center has raised more than $13 million to transform trauma research and care for civilians and members of the military who experience traumatic injuries and events. Funds raised by members of the 2018 Stepping Strong Marathon Team support the center’s work. To meet other members of the team or make a gift, click here. Learn more about the center at