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Towson Athlete Hopes Running Marathon Will Inspire Others Dependent On Oxygen Tanks

TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) -- An athlete in Towson is overcoming one obstacle after another in her quest to finish the New York City Marathon this fall.

Neighbors are used to seeing that athlete, Mary Kitlowski, and her husband Ed out for a long walk.

"Saturday I did my long walk and that was 9.25 miles," Kitlowski said.

Mary goes for that walk along with a backpack that pulls pure oxygen from the air, a necessity due to a medical condition called primary ciliary dyskinesia.

Her lungs are barely working -- just 34 percent -- and they'll only get worse.

"When it gets warmer today, if I'm out in the sun, I feel like I'm going to lay down and just die right there," she said.

It might surprise you that most days, in addition to their walks, the couple ends up at the YMCA.

Mary is in training.

"I'd like to finish the New York Marathon," she said.

Of course, during the marathon, she'll need to wear her backpack.

That's where Ed comes in. The batteries only last a few hours and she can't run out.

Ed will stay at her side for the entire 26.2-mile journey, schlepping the heavy batteries Mary will need to keep going.

They tried the run two years ago, but at mile 18 Mary couldn't go any further.

Ed's other job is to keep her spirits up.

"Keep going, keep going, keep going," Mary said. "Yeah, his job is to carry the batteries and make sure I make it over the finish line."

There's one more thing to know about Mary -- her condition has worsened to the point where she's now being evaluated for a double lung transplant.

She wants her efforts to inspire others who use oxygen.

"If I can inspire someone to be healthier or to not give up on their dreams, then doing this is worth it and that keeps me going," she said.

The couple will journey to New York in November unless she gets on the transplant list and their journey takes them to the operating room instead.

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