When Rich Tabbut was a child, he didn’t understand why his mother was different from the other mothers in his neighborhood. Later, he came to realize she was a very courageous woman suffering from a rare congenital condition called Sturge-Weber Syndrome.
This Monday, Tabbut will run the Boston Marathon in honor of his mother and for his Wicked Running Club out of Salem. Since joining Wicked, the lifelong Beverly resident has become very involved in running for charities and helping disabled people.
Sturge-Weber Syndrome, or SWS, occurs in only one out of every 50,000 births — and there is no cure. The most common sign of SWS is a bright-red port wine stain that covered half his mother’s face and extended down her chest, but there are other far more serious effects that tend to worsen with age. His mother also had polio as a child.
“When I was younger I didn’t realize how many problems she had,” said the 54-year-old Tabbut. “She stayed in the house a lot and couldn’t do so many things that others took for granted. My parents kept to themselves most of the time, and I was a very shy kid.
“As an adult, it hit me how much courage she had, and now I want to help disabled people. I’ve been running for 40 years now beginning when I was in junior high. I’m not all about doing races in a fast time; running for charities has become more important as I get older.”
The Beverly resident was fortunate to receive one of two invitational entries for the Boston Marathon, given to his running club as a reward for the terrific job they do each year at the mile 17 stop along the marathon route. Names of club members planning to run the marathon, who met certain criteria, were placed in a hat and randomly chosen. Tabbut and Amber Woolfenden were the lucky winners.