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‘Me against my diagnosis:’ Kim Winiker runs Boston Marathon for multiple sclerosis fund

Fourth-year medical student diagnosed with MS during first year at UMMS; experience gives insight into patient perspective

By Kylee Denesha

UMass Medical School Communications

September 22, 2020

Kim Winiker, SOM ’21, ran his first Boston Marathon on Sept. 6 for the Marathon Strides Against MS team and raised nearly $20,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, an organization that strikes a personal chord for him. The virtual course was his first marathon.

“I was diagnosed with MS in my first year of medical school,” Winiker said. “We were actually in our immunology course the week that I was diagnosed. During that time, we had lectures on autoimmune diseases and touched on multiple sclerosis for the first time in my medical training.”

“I woke up one morning and noticed I had lost some sensation to pain and temperature on one side of my body. In that moment, I was trying to apply what I learned about the nervous system to decipher what was happening to my body.”

Now in his final year of medical school, preparing for residency applications and finishing clinical rotations, Winiker spent months training for the opportunity to contribute to a cause that supports MS research and patients.

“Oddly enough, I did not wake up with the intention to run a full marathon that day,” he said. “I planned to do training, maybe 13 or 14 miles. I started at 1 p.m. and my motivation changed; I decided to just persevere and finish this goal. It’s always been a challenge of me against my diagnosis, and running to prove that my body can complete this athletic feat that is a challenge for anyone, let alone someone with MS. I actually wanted to push myself to see how fast I could actually run a marathon.”

His 26.2-mile route kicked off near the UMass Memorial Medical Center campus, circling Lake Quinsigamond several times, then finishing near the UMass Medical School campus on Lake Avenue, where he was greeted by his friends. By the end of the run, Winiker was tired, but he was thrilled to have completed the trek.

“It’s interesting in terms of perspective as a medical provider and also a patient. The fear and uncertainty that I experienced is something I want to keep in mind when I work with people. It gives me a lot of insight going into medicine. I want to maintain that care and compassion that I so greatly appreciated as a patient too,” he said.

Winiker aspires to enter an internal medicine and pediatric residency, working with adults and children. He is enrolled in the Global Health Pathway and has served as a student ambassador for medical school applicants, created an elective and participated in a number of volunteer efforts.

He said it is a privilege to see the MS community benefit from his actions.

“I’m floored that people were so generous. It is so meaningful to me to make that much of an impact.”