BETHEL, Conn. -- After Bethel resident Chris Longo's wife, Lynne, had a stillborn baby in her 22nd week of pregnancy, he began searching for a way to cope with all of his pain and grief.
Longo, new principal of Schaghticoke Middle School in New Milford, was a competitive runner in high school and college. He also had recently returned to the sport after a 15-year hiatus.
He came up with the idea of running 22 marathons -- one for every week his wife was pregnant.
Longo sadly recalled the events leading up to the tragedy. "My wife was in her second trimester. The entire pregnancy had been normal," recalled Longo, 39. He with his wife have two sons -- Andrew, 5 and Dylan, 4.
"This came as a complete surprise," said Longo, explaining that the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby's neck in the womb.
On Dec. 31, Lynne delivered the baby, a stillborn girl named Angelina Marie by her parents. "We call her our little angel," Longo said.
Today, Longo is well on his way toward completing his goal -- to date, he has run nine marathons: Hamptons in New York; HMRRC (Hudson Mohawk Roadrunners Club) in New York; DC Rock 'n' Roll in Washington, D.C.; Fighting Seabees in Rhode Island; New Jersey; Gate City in New Hampshire; Vermont City in Burlington; Lake Placid in New York; and Mad in Vermont.
Next on his list is the San Francisco Marathon on July 31.
While he's running the marathons, Longo said he often thinks about his family and reflects on the daughter he lost.
His last marathon -- the Mad Marathon in Vermont -- was extremely hilly and painful for him, but "it was a special race because I received Bib #22," Longo said.
Recently, Longo started a #22marathons memorial in his garage. "I am creating this tribute by hanging all marathon medals, race numbers and photos from the races. I have them numbered across a large board in my garage," he said. "Every time we get home and walk from the car to the door to enter the house, it will be another reminder of our Angelina."
On Longo's long runs, he runs by the cemetery where Angelina rests. "I stop for a few minutes and spend time there thinking what it would be like to have a baby girl. I think about the joy our family would have experienced; the happiness of our two boys to have a little sister; and, how happy my wife would be with a little princess.
"Although we had a huge loss, we know Angelina is our little angel watching over our family and instilling hope and faith in us that some day, we may be blessed with another child in our family."