Mile af­ter mile, marathoner will honor his sis­ter’s mem­ory

Matt Sed­ney’s run to raise funds for aneurysm re­search

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Jonas Shaf­fer

On Nov. 28, 2013, Matt Sed­ney went for a run with the sis­ter he would lose in 27 days.

It was Thanks­giv­ing in Ridge­field, Conn., his first since grad­u­at­ing from Wash­ing­ton Col­lege the pre­vi­ous spring. Jen­nifer Sed­ney had got­ten into run­ning, and Matt, her younger brother, only sib­ling and a for­mer Divi­sion III soc­cer player, was fol­low­ing her lead. Along with their fa­ther, Len, they had signed up for the city’s Turkey Trot.

They were as­signed se­quen­tial bib num­bers for the 5K run — 500 to 502. They fin­ished less than 21⁄ min­utes apart, the 62-year-old Len in first and Jen­nifer just 96 sec­onds be­hind Matt.

With the morn­ing chill be­low freez­ing, they had kept close that fall day. Matt’s mem­ory of the race still warms him. The next month, Jen­nifer com­plained of a To­day, 8 a.m. Start line: Rus­sell and Cam­den Streets

ter­ri­ble headache. She soon re­cov­ered, feel­ing well enough to go shop­ping and wrap presents with her mother, Ali­son. Then she col­lapsed. On Christ­mas Day, she died of a cere­bral hem­or­rhage from a rup­tured sub­arach­noid aneurysm. Jen­nifer was 27.

Matt be­gan to reach out to friends. He texted some. He called Jack Tay­lor. “I don’t know why he did, but that’s a mo­ment that I’ll re­ally never for­get,” Tay­lor said. “I just re­mem­ber the phone call. It was a very pow­er­ful mo­ment.”

Their di­verg­ing lives have sep­a­rated them since their days at Wash­ing­ton Col­lege, Tay­lor re­turn­ing to Bal­ti­more to work in real es­tate and Matt liv­ing in New York for his fi­nance job. Jen­nifer will bring them to­gether again this week­end.

To­day, the 25-year-olds will run along­side each other in the Bal­ti­more Marathon in honor of Jen­nifer and in sup­port of the Bee Foun­da­tion. Tay­lor al­ready has raised nearly $2,000 for the Philadel­phia-based non­profit ded­i­cated to spread­ing aware­ness of and rais­ing money for pre­ven­tive re­search into brain aneurysms.

“We want to save lives,” said Erin Kreszl, the Sed­neys’ cousin and co-founder of the foun­da­tion, along with sis­ter Chris­tine Kon­dra. “We don’t want other fam­i­lies to go through what we went through.”

Matt and Jen­nifer grew up where they last raced to­gether. They lived in an an­cient J. Sed­ney

Bal­ti­more Run­ning Fes­ti­val

When: The 5K be­gins to­day at 7:30 a.m., the marathon and team re­lay be­gins at 8 a.m., the kids fun run be­gins at 9:20 a.m. and the half-marathon be­gins at 9:45 a.m. Park­ing: Park­ing is avail­able near M&T Bank Sta­dium in lots A, C, F, G, H, J, K, L, M, N, O, MM and NN. For road clo­sures, go to the­bal­ti­more­marathon.com. Se­cu­rity: Run­ners are re­quired to place be­long­ings in the clear bags given out at the expo. No over­sized bags or lug­gage will be ac­cepted. All bags are sub­ject to search. Please ar­rive early if you plan to check a bag. On­line: bal­ti­more­sun.com/marathon, the­bal­ti­more­marathon.com TV: Ch. 11 will have live cov­er­age be­gin­ning to­day at 5 a.m. house in Ridge­field; Matt put its date of con­struc­tion some­time in the late 1700s. Be­cause Jen­nifer was the older sib­ling and their home was very old, Matt suf­fered.

“Things were al­ways break­ing, whether it was the TV or the stove or the re­motes be­ing lost,” he re­called. “She would al­ways blame that stuff on me be­cause it was just so easy.”

She was an other­wise lov­ing, not-at-al­lan­noy­ing sis­ter, a “men­tor,” Matt said. When her friends came over when he was in mid­dle school, Matt, the fu­ture cap­tain of a na­tion­ally ranked high school boys soc­cer team, would play with them in the fam­ily’s back­yard.

Matt val­ued her ad­vice and ex­pe­ri­ence. Jen­nifer had gone through Ridge­field High be­fore he en­tered his fresh­man year there and had grad­u­ated from Michi­gan be­fore he en­rolled at Wash­ing­ton Col­lege. She would do her best to tell Matt what lay ahead.

When Tay­lor moved to Ch­ester­town, he re­mem­bers think­ing Sed­ney, the first time he saw him, was older than he looked. They lived in Kent House to­gether, but nei­ther said a word to the other as they walked past each other in an­other build­ing on cam­pus. That would change soon. They were both ath­letes — Tay­lor, a Calvert Hall grad­u­ate, played on the Shore­men ten­nis team — and they both loved sports. That was all it took.

“It just kind of grew from there,” Tay­lor said. They be­came close, liv­ing to­gether again as sopho­mores and in an off-cam­pus house with a clutch of friends as se­niors. On the week­ends, they’d throw par­ties and hang out out­side.

Wash­ing­ton Col­lege was a haven for trans­plant Ravens fans, so fall Sun­days were par­tic­u­larly spe­cial for Tay­lor. “A hell of a great time,” he re­called, un­til he real­ized one friend wasn’t who Tay­lor thought he was. Sed­ney had rooted for the New York Jets in pub­lic. Pri­vately, he was hid­ing an­other fan­dom.

Se­nior year, they were watch­ing a Pitts­burgh Steel­ers game when the broad­cast cut to some­thing in Heinz Field branded “Sed­ney.” “And then it all came out,” Tay­lor said. “Matt can get very an­i­mated. So he, like, lost it and was like, ‘Screw you, guys, I like the Steel­ers.’ It got pretty in­ter­est­ing.”

“Ev­ery per­son there was a Ravens fan,” Sed­ney ex­plained, “so I kind of kept that un­der wraps.”

Sed­ney and Tay­lor came to rely on each other, be it for a U.S. Open view­ing part­ner over La­bor Day week­ends in col­lege or for sim­ple ad­vice, so Tay­lor was happy to see his friend call­ing him in De­cem­ber 2013. Sed­ney told him what hap­pened. Tay­lor was gut­ted; he had met Jen­nifer only once, but he has a sis­ter, too. He couldn’t imag­ine the pain.

Over time, Tay­lor learned more about the Bee Foun­da­tion, about how one in 50 Amer­i­cans will de­velop a si­lent brain aneurysm, about how 40 per­cent of those aneurysms that rup­ture are fa­tal. He lost weight, got in shape. He ran his first marathon in July. He con­vinced Sed­ney to run his first in Bal­ti­more.

It will not be easy, even with fam­ily and friends there to root them on. Sed­ney has com­pleted only half-marathons, and he joked about need­ing to stop at Mile 15 or 16 to­day.

It will be an ex­haust­ing day, he knows, with an im­por­tant friend. The best thing Tay­lor did for Sed­ney af­ter his sis­ter’s death was tell him, “I’m here for you and I’m here to talk with you.”

Now that Sed­ney’s run­ning in her mem­ory, far­ther than he ever has, he will need some­one to lean on. Tay­lor has as­sured Sed­ney he will be there, run­ning with him, step for step.

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