In the latest Around Town column, news about a Stanford Children's Health employee eight-marathon adventure for charity, Ms. Wheelchair California's visit to the Magical Bridge Playground and the Garden Court Hotel's new general manager.
SORE WINNER ... Sleepless nights, long flights, humid conditions and sore quads haven't dampened the spirits of Brendan Watkins, who this week embarked on a global fundraising adventure. Watkins, an administrative director of analytics at Stanford Children's Health, is running eight marathons on seven continents (plus New Zealand) in eight days, an adventure that began with a Jan. 21 race in Auckland, New Zealand, and that will conclude on Jan. 28 in King George Island, Antarctica. In between, the 44-year-old runner is scheduled to run 26.2-mile races in Perth, Australia; Singapore; Cairo, Egypt; Amsterdam, the Netherlands; New York; and Punta Arenas, Chile a grueling circuit of 209.6 running miles. "This isn't just a mid-life crisis, although that may well be a big factor," Watkins wrote on a Stanford Children's Health blog post before the first race. "This is hugely important for me as I want this to be a monumental life experience, and one that benefits a great cause." Watkins had set out to raise $3,000 for the Children's Fund, which supports programs for sick children at the hospital, including Pet Therapy, which brings animals to the hospital to boost spirits of children patients. By Jan. 23, he had already received $4,293 in donations and the goal was reset to $5,000. (Those wishing to donate can do so here.) Watkins also is keeping his friends and followers informed about his "Triple 8 Quest" on his blog, brendanstriple8quest.blogspot.com. In Singapore, Wakins felt "pretty good" despite the lack of sleep (and two prior marathons). "Once the horn went for the start of the race, I just said, 'oh oh,' as the pain in my quads let itself be known," Watkins wrote. "However, I managed to power through that and then just had the heat and humidity to deal with."
READY TO ROLL ... The Magical Bridge Playground in Mitchell Park welcomed a special visitor last weekend — Angela Piazza, the reigning Ms. Wheelchair California. In a Facebook Live video from the event, Piazza read from the book "The Adventures of KatGirl" by Katherine Magnoli, about a girl in a wheelchair confronting a bully. She also sat alongside Jay Gleckman, director of education at the Magical Bridge Foundation, who sang for the crowd gathered around Levy Huey Community Stage. The afternoon event on Jan. 18 also featured a Q&A with Piazza, wheelchair test drives and hands-on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and Math) activities. In addition to her state title, Piazza is chair of special events for the San Mateo County Commission on Disabilities, according to her Facebook profile. She also serves on Redwood City's Housing and Human Concerns Committee.
CHECKING IN ... The Garden Court Hotel in downtown Palo Alto has a new general manager in Brayton Gosling, who was named to the position earlier this month, according to a Jan. 14 press release. Jan Henningsen, COO of Hotel Crafters, the management company operating the hotel, applauded the appointment. "We are thrilled for Brayton to join the team and know his strong leadership abilities, hospitality background and relationship building skills will enhance the experience of our guests," Henningsen said in the press release. Gosling, who has worked in the hospitality industry for 10 years, most recently served as general manager for Hotel Los Gatos. Gosling is a known figure among local hoteliers, having served on the Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce board of directors, where he was president for a year and a half. He holds a bachelor's degree in communications from the University of California, San Diego.