Runners We Love: Graham and Jessica Morgan

Jul 12 2016

Runners We Love: Graham and Jessica Morgan

By Steven Olender

He may have dressed as Thor for the 2015 CASA Superhero Run, but Graham Morgan doesn't need a costume to be a hero for kids. Graham is the therapy dog for Bee Well Pediatrics, one of the top fundraisers for the 2015 CASA Superhero Run and a Runner We Love.

When Dr. Jessica Morgan opened Bee Well Pediatrics with Dr. Suzanne Van Benthuysen in 2013, they wanted to create a different kind of pediatric practice. One of the first things she did was put her dog, Graham, through training to be a therapy animal. He passed his exams with flying colors (though there was some concern that he was so exuberant and friendly) and has been a perfect fit at Bee Well ever since.

"We wanted to create a space that was comfortable for kids, where we could really develop relationships with patients," said Dr. Morgan. Graham does exactly that. Every day, he gets kids excited to come in to the doctor and he sits with them to help keep them calm when they are fussy or need to get shots. "Sometimes kids will stop by just to see him," says Dr. Morgan.

One thing that Bee Well Pediatrics focuses on is encouraging active, healthy lifestyle choices. They practice integrative medicine, examining underlying issues like nutrition, sleep and lifestyle when treating patients, and everyone in the office tries to live that example. "I think it's important for patients to see we're not just talking about having an active lifestyle, that we're actually doing it," she explains. Dr. Morgan is a runner herself and Graham is very active, but they rarely run together because he wants to stop and make friends at every opportunity along the way.

They came across the CASA Superhero Run when Dr. Morgan was looking for a way to make being active fun for her niece and nephew. The entire office at Bee Well Pediatrics, sharing Dr. Morgan's passion for helping young people, was quick to join in. Soon they had a 15-person team and were holding a weekly challenge in the office to see who could run the most training miles.

When they decided to fundraise for CASA, they knew exactly how to do it. "It was kind of a no brainer," said Dr. Morgan. "Graham is the star." They made a fundraising page in his name, complete with photos of him dressed as a superhero, then posted the page to their office's Facebook profile. Graham is such a beloved figure in the Bee Well community that donations started pouring in.

But it wasn't just donations that Graham inspired. Bee Well patients started signing up for the race, too, which Dr. Morgan loves. "It's a great way to get children active and involved in giving back," she explained. "Exercise not only keeps our bodies healthy, but also our minds. Everyone wins!"

As far as how families should do their fundraising, she offered the same advice she gives to parents who are trying to get their kids to make healthy choices: Get their input and engage them in the solution. "Ask your kids for their ideas, like, 'how can we raise money?' They might surprise you with some of their ideas. It gives a way for them to get involved in the activity and feel a connection to the cause."

Sitting on the floor in his Superman shirt, casually munching on an apple, Graham agreed. 

You can be a superhero like Graham at the 2016 CASA Superhero Run on September 18th. Register for the racedonate to kidsfundraise for the cause, or do all 3! Learn more at www.casasuperherorun.com.