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Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Red Sox won last night's Fenway marathon - Help me finish mine against cancer

Mile 25 - Before the magic. (Sam Ogden photo)

It took starter Chis Sale, finisher Sandy Leon, and the rest of the Red Sox 12 innings and nearly four hours to beat the Pirates last night at chilly Fenway Park. That's a long baseball game even by today's standards, but I'd love it as a finishing time in my first Boston Marathon -- which I'm running on April 17 as a member of the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge (DFMC).

As the largest charity team in the race, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has more than 500 runners taking on the famous Hopkinton-to-Copley Square course. Each is responsible for at least $5,000 in fundraising, 100 percent of which goes to the Claudia Adams Barr Program in Innovative Cancer Research at Dana-Farber. Thanks to many of you, I'm already well past this threshold and am sprinting towards a new finishing-line goal of $10,000 -- part of my team's goal of $5 million.

I'll run longer than Leon, but hopefully as happily. (Boston Globe)  

Running Boston serves as more than just the fulfillment of a lifelong dream, one derailed for decades by ulcerative colitis and revived as a 50th birthday gift to myself. Just as new ace Sale has a mission to pitch the Red Sox back to the postseason, Dana-Farber is committed to curing as many patients as possible -- and helping others live with cancer as a chronic disease rather than a deadly one. In the 18 years I've worked at Dana-Farber, cure rates have improved tremendously for many cancers, but there is still a long way to go.

Who will I be thinking of during my run?

This list is long -- from family gone too soon like Agi Alpert and Michael Carlin to friends who fought with courage, strength, and a will to live as long as they could. Many others are longtime cancer survivors, or those currently in treatment with more challenges ahead. Their hopes and dreams will also be on my mind through the miles, and their names will be on my bib.

Since 1999 I've met and written about dozens of individuals who joined the Dana-Farber team to honor their own loved ones. Many times I've waited at Mile 25 and cheered as the pediatric patient partners high-five and hug their DFMC runners as they reach the edge of Kenmore Square -- just a few hundred yards from Fenway Park and 1.2 miles from the finish. It's an incredibly powerful experience.

Mile 25 Magic -- in progress. (Dana-Farber)

Now I'll be on the other side, pounding the pavement and looking straight ahead to the CITGO sign as friends and colleagues cheer me on. Hearing the yells of "GO DANA-FARBER!" when people spot my distinctive singlet will undoubtedly help propel me throughout the race, but I'll be most counting on it in the hills of Newton. Please "CALL FOR SAUL!" as loud a you can.

There is one other way you can help me reach the finish line. If you have not already, please consider making a gift of any size to support my run, so that when I pass Fenway on Patriot's Day I will do so knowing I've made my goal. Remember, 100 percent of all donations go directly to the Barr Program so that Dana-Farber researchers can uncover new cancer cures. Please help as much as you can.

Thank you in advance for your consideration, and your support -- now and on race day.


Getting closer... and hopefully warmer.