To Make a Donation to the 2016 team

Please visit my fundraising page to make a donation to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute ( Please help me reach my goal of $50,000 to fund important basic cancer research! With your support, we have already provided over $366,000 to Dana-Farber researchers over the past 9 years. Please give as generously as your means allow!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Toeing the Starting Line

Last week was the first Runners Meeting of the season for the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge.  It's always so motivating and inspiring to gather with many teammates to get prepared for the upcoming training season.  There were so many people attending this meeting that they had to move it to a bigger room to accommodate all of the runners.  That's the first time in the 4 years I've been on the team that this has happened, and I hope it is a sign of a very successful year.  It's such a supportive group, with so much more to offer than a training plan. 

The meetings are usually a combination of running and fundraising information.  The goal of the DFMC team is first and foremost to raise research funds for the Barr program at Dana-Farber, the means of doing that is the running part.  There is a personal connection for each of the runners to cancer and each has their own reason for running.  At the meeting, we were treated to a show by two young boys whose dad is running.  He was a member of the team a few years back, running in honor of his wife.  This year, he is back running in memory of his wife and the mother of these two boys.  One day this summer, the boys came up with the idea to do some fund raising of their own.  They set up "drums" on their driveway....a bucket, a megaphone, a tamborine, etc.  The younger boy, about 5 or 6 years old, sat in a small Radio Flyer wagon and played the drums and the older brother, maybe 8 or 9, held up a sign that said they were raising money for Dana-Farber Cancer Research.  A drum show instead of a lemonade stand.  To raise money for cancer.  For their mom. These impressive young men reenacted their show for us, and then told us all about it.  One person gave them a check for $40.  Lots of people stopped and listened.  At the meeting, they presented the DFMC a check for over $130 to kick off the season.  And they signed autographs.  That'll get you fired up.

After running a half marathon in October, I had been feeling a little unmotivated to run, and took some time "off."  I'd go out for some shorter runs when I felt like it, but didn't look at what I should be doing or any sort of plan for about a month.  It felt good.  Last week, the motivation to run came back.  I felt like going a little further, a little faster, and ready to start building up.  I got out for regular runs at a decent pace and it felt good.  Yesterday, I pulled out all the articles and books and training plans I have been collecting, and have started to put together my training plan for the next 21 weeks.  I am ready to get started. 

And I'm back to writing more, and have started to put together my other plan....making this year another productive, maybe record setting year raising valuable, important funds for Dana-Farber.  Each year the support has been tremendous, and I am excited to get started again.  I'm ready.

It's November 15 and it is 60 degrees at 6:30 a.m.  Can't beat that.  I've been enjoying every last minute of these higher than normal November temperatures, all the while preparing for the winter that lurks behind these treasured days.  I'm ready for it...well, ready as I can be.  Ready to run.  Ready to remember.  Ready to break new records.  Ready to keep running the race against cancer. 

Be good.  Be strong. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Simple gifts

I just got back from a run, and I couldn't get my kids out the door fast enough this morning in order to get on the road.  I needed to escape to think and breathe and grieve and heal and celebrate and remember, but I don't think I could run far enough or fast enough to lift the heaviness that I am feeling today.  Today is Mary's birthday, and I have to tell you that it's been a tough morning.  A lot tougher than I thought it would be, and honestly, there wasn't much about today that I was looking forward to.

In the wide world of Facebook this morning, there have been such big, strong emotions shown for Mary, for our family, for her friends.  I hate seeing them and love it all at the same time because of the emotions it stirs up.  It makes me feel so overwhelmingly sad, yet comforted to know just how amazingly strong the bond is between us all.  It allows the opportunity to "be together" in our sadness, and to share our thoughts with each other.  To be closer and less alone.  To feel the love and support and strength and familiarity of friends and family near and far.

Mary left an enormous legacy by showing us how to live a meaningful life.  How to be a good friend.  The importance of family.  What it means to be an authentic, honest person.  Words like "wonderful soul" and "strong spirit" and "amazing woman" are used to describe her, and Mary certainly left an impression on an immense number of people who were blessed enough to know her.  Today, she is so deeply missed.

I love this picture from her birthday last year.  You can feel her happiness and joy, and I know how good it was for her to laugh hard with her friends.  For a brief period of time, she was given a new lease on life and she embraced each and every day.  Like a birthday present you get to open a new each morning.  She left us all many gifts...what was your favorite? 

Happy birthday, M.  Whipped cream, birthday crowns, a full moon dance party, and a whole lot of laughter.  I'm smiling through the tears.

Be good.  Be strong.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

4.5 million steps closer

The Grand Total announcement for the 2011 Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team was made a couple of weeks ago.  A new all-time record for the DFMC team....$4,598,628.50.  I am so proud to be a part of such a successful and inspirational team, that even in light of the difficult economy, continues to advance the fight against cancer.  This whole "finding a cure for cancer" thing is a marathon.  It's impossible to know if we are getting close to the finish, or maybe just passing through the middles miles, but I do know that we are moving forward and taking steps every day.   I also know that this DFMC team, and the $4,598,628.50 raised this year alone, is helping advance.

On a personal level, I surpassed my original goal by more than double to raise $47,721.  THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!!  This effort is not a solo one, and there was certainly a great deal of help along the way from many, many people, including the "Friends of the Firths" in Chattanooga who organized the Ride for Life to bring over $12,000 to this cause.  Additionally, more than 300 different people made contributions starting at $10 and going up from there showing that every dollar and every donation makes a difference.  We together are making a huge impact.  I can't write a check for $47,000, but my role as a member of the DFMC team is to bring together a group of people who care about this cause, and who can collectively give $47,000 or more.  And we did that, together, for which I am incredibly grateful.  

In the past 3 years of running for the marathon from Dana-Farber, I have helped to bring gifts over $82,000 to the Barr Program at Dana-Farber, along with all of you:  supporters, friends, cheering sections, family members, co-workers, gift givers, kind word sharers, readers of this blog, sharers of this story, neighbors, running partners, etc..  It is certainly way beyond what I could have imagined when I first signed up.  These funds are a gift for all of those who may face a cancer diagnosis in the future and all those who have reaped the benefits of the innovative research already conducted.  It will make a difference.

The new running season is upon us, and the DFMC is gearing up for Boston in 2012.  I am going to be back out there, logging a lot of miles between now and April, to get me from start to finish.  And I'll again be running in a Dana-Farber shirt doing my best to help get the deserving and dedicated researchers at Dana-Farber the funds they need to find a cure.

Thank you dearly for your support and friendships.  Thank you for supporting my family during some years that still are unfathomable.  Thank you for being a part of this team that together is fighting to cure cancer.

Be good.  Be strong.