By Bill Benner, Sports Journalist

As a career wordsmith, I’m rarely challenged to find, well, words.

But in speaking with Bev Watt, I was momentarily wordless to describe this woman’s achievement.

Make that achievements, plural.

So let’s start with remarkable. No, that’s not quite there.

Exceptional? On the right track.

How about extraordinary? Yeah, that’s it. Extraordinary. No, make it EXTRAordinary! (Exclamation point intended).

You see, with the help of staff at Forte Sports Medicine and Orthopedics, Bev Watts overcame a hip injury and ran a marathon last summer.

A 26.2-mile marathon.

So what’s the big deal, you might think. Lots of people overcome injuries to run marathons.

So here’s the big deal.

Bev Watt is 84 years old.

As I said, EXTRAordinary!

But making it even more so is the aforementioned hip injury, suffered when she fell from her bicycle just five weeks before she was scheduled to run in the appropriately named Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minn.

“After my fall, I didn’t think much of it,” says Bev, an avid runner for more than 40 years. “But over the next few days, I could barely walk, let alone run. The pain was too much.”

She thought of a long-ago treatment from Dr. Arthur Rettig, “who I loved,” she said. So, she got in her car on the northeast side of Indianapolis and decided to seek him out directly. Only when she arrived at the Pennsylvania Parkway location, she discovered that Methodist Sports Medicine had changed its name and location, and Dr. Rettig had retired.

Bev learned of the new name, Forté Sports Medicine and Orthopedics, and its location and drove there, but filled with doubts. No one knows me at Forté, she thought, and what if I can’t get an appointment quickly?

And, even if she did get in, what if she was told her attempts to rehab and then compete in a marathon at 84 years old were folly.

Those doubts were quickly erased. She was referred to Dr. Matthew Negaard and physical therapist Jen LeBeau.

And instead of asking Bev why she would even think of such an attempt, both Dr. Negaard and LeBeau said, why not?

“Oh, Dr. Negaard was the most optimistic doctor I’ve ever met!” exclaimed Bev, a retired pharmacist at Fort Benjamin Harrison. “He said, ‘I’ll get you there.’

“And Jen was just wonderful. I’ve never had so much physical therapy. They were both so positive.”

Thus, slowly but quickly given the time frame, Bev recovered. And three-and-a-half weeks later, she was on the starting line in Duluth.

And 26.2 miles later, she crossed the finish line.

“My three teammates from Indianapolis were there and everybody was cheering,” said Bev who, not surprisingly, won her age class. “I got an award plaque in the shape of Minnesota.”

As she was running, she contemplated quitting several times. But every time she did, she thought back to Dr. Negaard and LeBeau.

“They all said you can do it,” Bev recalled. “As I was running, I told myself I can’t stop. I can’t let them down. Half the battle was their encouragement.”

Thus, the capstone to an amazing running career that has included competing in marathons in the U.S. and Europe, in particular Berlin, where she posted her personal best time of 4 hours, 30 minutes. Her infatuation with running began years ago, when she competed with a Fort Harrison team in the Indiana Sports Corp’s annual Corporate Challenge. That was a miler. In short time, she moved up to 10ks and half marathons, then to the 26.2 milers.

Bev gives part of the credit to genetics. “At age 86, my mother could outwalk me,” says Bev.

And was the Grandma Marathon her last? Well never say never. You put one foot in front of another and then, before you know it, it’s 26.2 miles later.

“I’m still running and would like to do another when I’m 85,” says Bev. “I just want to be an inspiration to other women coming up in age.”

An inspiration to be sure.

A remarkable, exceptional inspiration?

No, an EXTRAordinary inspiration. That’s just the right word.

And credit Forté’s Negaard and LeBeau for an extraordinary assist.

INDIANAPOLIS – Butler University's highly respected athletic program has new team members to assist in providing student-athletes with comprehensive medical care. Franciscan Health and Forté Sports Medicine and Orthopedics (formerly Methodist Sports Medicine) – long recognized as national leaders in orthopedic surgery and sports medicine – are joining their expertise and award-winning care processes to provide care for Butler University's athletic program. 

Philip A. Blaney, MD, MBA, MS, medical director of Franciscan Physician Network Sports Medicine Specialists, has been appointed head team physician for Butler University. In that role, he will provide both primary care and sports medicine services to Butler's student-athletes. Dr. Blaney completed a sports medicine fellowship with Intermountain Healthcare-Utah Valley Orthopedic Center in Provo.  Dr. Blaney was a head team physician for various high school teams and has served as a team physician for Purdue University. Currently, Dr. Blaney is also the head team physician for the Indianapolis Indians, the AAA affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

Franciscan Health will also provide full-time athletic trainers to augment the current Butler staff, allowing for enhanced coverage of practices and events. 

"Butler University has a storied history in sports and continues to promote excellence both on the playing field and in academics," said James Callaghan, MD, president and CEO for Franciscan Health Central Indiana. "We're honored that Dr. Blaney will lead a team of clinicians who will provide stellar care to students." 

Dr. Blaney will be joined on the sidelines by orthopedic surgeon Michael Bender, MD, of Forté Sports Medicine and Orthopedics. Dr. Bender is a fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in shoulder and elbow disorders, with prior experience taking care of athletes as a team physician at Park Tudor and Indiana State University. Dr. Bender is a member of the prestigious American Shoulder & Elbow Surgeons (ASES) society. He performs all forms of minimally invasive and open shoulder and elbow procedures for patients of all ages.  

Drs. Blaney and Bender will be supported by over 25 orthopedic surgeons from Forté Sports Medicine and Orthopedics who have sub-specialty training in foot/ankle, knee, hip, spine, hand/wrist, elbow shoulder and sports medicine. Franciscan Physician Network specialists will also support the team as needed, including providing comprehensive concussion care. 

"With the addition of Franciscan Health and Forté's talented and dedicated physicians and staff, our student-athletes will receive high-level, comprehensive medical care," said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. "We are excited for this partnership that will add even more resources to Butler's sports medicine and sports performance staff under the direction of Ralph Reiff." 

Butler University athletes will also have access to the new Franciscan Orthopedic Center of Excellence, to be located at 106th and Illinois streets in Carmel. Franciscan Health and Forté Sports Medicine and Orthopedics are partners in this venture which is set to open in early 2022. This facility will offer Butler athletes and active adults across Indiana and beyond, access to a highly focused orthopedic center of excellence for inpatient and outpatient surgery, specialty rehabilitation services and more. 

CARMEL, Ind.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The physicians and team members of Methodist Sports Medicine announced today they have changed the name of the physician group to Forté Sports Medicine and Orthopedics. The practice underwent a rebranding process to find a name that would highlight its brand promise and position the practice for future growth. Forté, which is a French and Italian word for strength, refers to a person’s strong suit or something that shows one’s special ability. The practice, which is trusted by top athletes and sports teams such as the Indianapolis Colts, is recognized as one of the region's most respected orthopedic groups. 

“This rebranding is about more than just a new logo or colors,” stated Dr. Mark Ritter, Forté Sports Medicine and Orthopedics president and a fellowship-trained orthopedic knee and shoulder surgeon. "The name Forté was chosen because it not only allows us to highlight our forté, which is providing great clinical outcomes and an elevated patient experience, but also allows us to highlight how we help our patients get back to what they do best and live their lives fully." 

Founded in 1983 as one of the country’s original sports medicine practices, Forté has grown to include 29 physicians and 237 team members who provide comprehensive, specialized sports medicine and orthopedic care to patients of all ages. The rebranding comes in advance of the opening of a new state-of-the-art orthopedic specialty hospital in March 2022. Located near 111th and US-31 in Carmel, the hospital is a result of a collaboration with Franciscan Health and greatly expands orthopedic services to patients throughout Indiana and much of the Midwest. 

"I’m very proud of the group of physicians and staff we’ve assembled who comprise one of the most skilled and integrated practice groups in the area,” said Dr. Ritter. “While our name is changing, our tradition of focusing on our patients does not. We will continue to strive each day to be the best place to give care and the best place to receive care.” 

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