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!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Give a Little Bit

Tomorrow is “Giving Tuesday,” a challenge in response to Black Friday and Cyber Monday to help redirect holiday spending towards charitable organizations during this season of giving.  There’s a good chance you’ve already been inundated with many worthy requests, yet I humbly ask for you to consider the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge.  This very simple concept for us all to support organizations during the holidays can make a long-lasting impact, and I’d be very grateful for your gift to the DFMC and here’s why:

At our wedding 18 years ago, I overheard someone say, “This family is advertisement for having a big family” while watching my siblings and I dancing and goofing off.  Having 5 kids was not all that common and I vividly remember people asking my parents “Are they all yours?” quite frequently when we were out and about.  A large family didn’t come without plenty of challenges, but the majority of the time, there was companionship and laughter and fun.  That carried on through young adulthood during fun times like new weddings and babies and summer vacations and especially in the more difficult time when Molly and Mary and John were sick, through treatments and surgeries and recovery.  It’s something I think about and miss every day.  The big, chaotic holidays or beach vacations.  The 27 daily phone calls back and forth to share silly information.  Kicking the soccer ball and giving advice.  Even the arguing and disagreements which comes with a big, close, open family, but forgiveness and laughter was always quick to follow.

I was inspired eight years ago by Molly, Mary and John to begin running to raise funds for innovative cancer research at Dana-Farber.  It’s continued to be my way to be with them and to honor the incredible strength and determination they each showed throughout treatment.  Additionally over the past 8 years, I’ve had the privilege to come to know and learn about so many other friends and family members who have also been on the receiving end of a cancer diagnosis, and all of these many, many people give deep meaning to every mile I run through training and during the marathon.  Last year and again this year, I will again run for my In-Memory patient, Jesse.  I wear their names on my back and am carried by their stories.  This team is a group of people filled with resilience:  the runners, families, volunteers, friends.  We come together each year with one goal in mind:  to fund research to find a cure.

I’ve had the opportunity to see firsthand how your donations are making a difference in the future of cancer through the research being conducted by the Claudia Barr Program in Innovative Cancer Research.   The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is a world leader in cancer research, and the Barr Program funds the brightest, most creative scientists making basic research discoveries that are transforming cancer treatment. Barr Investigators have made numerous major breakthroughs resulting in improved survival rates and quality of life for thousands of patients everywhere.  100% of every dollar raised through the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge goes directly to research.  One hundred percent. 

There are 42,000 meters in a marathon, and so I’ve set my initial goal this year higher than it’s ever been:  $42,000.  I humbly ask for your support of this program so we can continue to move closer to a world without cancer.  It’s ambitious, but each week, I hear of someone else faced with a new diagnosis and know that a family is facing an uncertain future.  There are advances being made every single day and our support through the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge is fueling much of the life-changing research.

To make an online gift, please go to: or if you would prefer, you may send a check payable to the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge to me at home:  23 Glendale Rd., Marblehead, MA  01945. 

Should it be that the efforts of this team have provided you a little bit of inspiration, I hope it is to help you see that we all have the opportunity to find purpose beyond ourselves.  That you have the ability to make changes and affect the future.  There is great hope that comes from uniting to accomplish a goal as big as this, and it takes many, many people to get there.  I believe in this cause, and I’m certainly better because of this team and those who I have met as a result…teammates, supporters, patient partners and families, and volunteers.   Thank you for your support.  Thank you for sharing your personal stories and providing inspiration and strength over the miles.  Thank you for believing that we are making a difference.
With gratitude,

PS….There will be new “Be good. Be strong.” shirts coming soon!  Watch your email and Facebook!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

T-shirt sale is re-open!

There were some people who missed out on the t-shirts this year, and I was able to get Booster to re-open the sale for a short time.  If you'd like a shirt, you need to order by June 20.  Proceeds will continue to go to fund cancer research at Dana-Farber.

The site to order is:

Friday, February 27, 2015


This year, I will be running for the first time for an In-Memory Family with the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge.  Many of my DFMC teammates come to the team with their own special connection to cancer and their very personal reason to want to support Innovative Cancer Research.   Additionally, each year runners can apply to be matched with a Patient Partner (current or former Dana-Farber pediatric patient) or an In-Memory Family (family of a pediatric patient who passed away as a result of this terrible disease).  After speaking with the program coordinator this year, I decided to apply for the In-Memory program and have been matched with the family of Jesse, a young boy who passed away just over a year ago from neuroblastoma.

Our family had the opportunity to meet Jesse's family a couple of weeks ago at the DFMC In-Memory Dinner.  We met his mom, dad and brother:  Suzy, Jeff and Colton, who were so kind and easy to talk with and get to know.   It was an informal way to get to know each other a little bit, and for me to learn a little bit more about this brave boy for whom I am incredibly humbled to have been matched. Jesse was diagnosed at age 3 and passed away at age 7.  All of those years, he never stopped treatment and was never in remission.  For four years, he endured chemo and doctor's appointments and hospital stays and all of the side effects, in between enjoying all the things that 4 and 5 and 6 year old boys love like Legos and playing outside.  And superheroes, most of all Batman.  He dreamed of becoming a police officer and was made an honorary officer by a local town.  The love he inspired was of heroic proportions in his community as told by the local newspaper article in the Middlebourough Enterprise.  While I mostly wish that there didn't have to be an In-Memory program and families who have experienced the loss of a young child, what an honor it is for me to run this year for Jesse and to share the DFMC team with his family this year in our joint mission to find treatments and cures for all types of cancer.

The In-Memory dinner was such a moving evening shared with other families and runners, and for us, the first time to hear more about the In-Memory program from people who have been involved for a long time.  There were families who have been a part of the program for many years, and others, like us, who were there for the first time.  In fact, the speaker is a young woman whose family began their affiliation with the program many years prior as an In-Memory family.  She lost her brother to cancer when she was much younger, but now as a young adult is a DFMC runner and teammate.  She requested to be matched with an In-Memory family because the program was so meaningful to her family over the years and in addition to joining the team as a runner, she wanted to also participate on the other side.  I tell you, this is a team that continues to draw you back in many different ways, whether it be as a runner or volunteer or fan.  We draw strength from each other to achieve our goals.

One of the most special parts of running for DFMC is that we get to meet people and spend time with others who have felt or are feeling similarly, who have shared experiences.  While it may seem sad, I feel it is the opposite.  It’s so healing and therapeutic to know that we are all purposed to achieve the same goal in honor of those we love.  As Suzy and I talked about, it's a safe, comfortable place to talk openly and freely about loved ones and about cancer without worry.  I hope that by becoming involved with DFMC that Jesse’s family can feel some of the same inspiration and support that I have felt through my years being involved.  I look forward to sharing more about Jesse throughout the rest of the season, and know that his bravery and strength will inspire me throughout this training season and beyond.  In the meantime, you can learn more about Jesse and his family by visiting their foundation's webpage: or their Facebook page: Jesse Heikkila Foundation

As I head out to our group run on another sub-zero morning, it is these all of these children in the In-Memory and Patient Partner programs that make this run worthwhile. In the big picture, these cold mornings and long runs are nothing.  What truly is something is kids like Jesse.  The theme for today's group run is Superheroes in honor of all of those for whom we run.  They are Superheroes to us.  My run today is for Jesse and his family.  It's nothing short of a privilege to be his representative on this team.

Be good. Be strong.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

February update: snow and shirts and snow and snow

Tomorrow (February 9) is the last day to order “Be good. Be strong.” shirts!  There are orders for almost 300 shirts and 31 states are represented so while we’ve got a lot of the map covered, we are still missing some key states.  Do you live in Rhode Island?  Idaho?  How about Alaska?  Do you know someone currently in treatment for cancer?  Or a survivor?  Please consider making a purchase today.  The proceeds will be donated directly to the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge this year.  And as with last year, we ask that everyone wear their shirt on Marathon Monday and send us pictures.  It's a great tribute to family and friends to see support extended across the county.  Be sure to let us know where you live so we can fill in your state!  To order, go to and don't forget that tomorrow (February 9) is the last day!!

February is the month when training really kicks into high gear.  We are just about halfway through the training season which has me running on average 30-40 miles per week with my long run at 16 miles and building.  Let me tell you, the past couple of weeks has made that tough.  We ended up getting a full season’s worth of snow in a week, a new record for the area.  And with that in mind, we are set to get another 18-24 inches of snow over the next couple of days that will settle in on top of the 45” inches that have already fallen.  With temperatures not ever really getting above freezing, the existing snow has been slow to melt.  It’s been a challenge to say the least, and I’ve logged more miles than I prefer on the treadmill, but get outside when I can.  The roads are narrow so safety is a big concern, so taking inside when necessary is the right call.  It is an exercise in training the brain if nothing else!  It'll all melt by April, right?

As we muddle through the winter, we also trudge through some difficult days and I am thankful during this time that I have the opportunity to get out and run, and to be a part of a community that understands.  During February, we mark dreadful “anniversary” days of when we lost Molly and Mary, and then in March, we also try to celebrate the birthdays of Molly and John without them here.   A lot of ups and downs, and those dreadful days don’t feel any easier. I have a couple of friends that are currently in treatment for cancer, too, so all of these people and events are motivation enough to continue on.

Your support over the years means so much to me, not just in the incredibly generous gifts to Dana-Farber but in the kindness and thoughtful outreach I have received.  That kindness buoys me to continue and I promise, we are together making a difference.  If you would like to support DFMC, please visit my online page at to make a gift.  If you would prefer, you can also send a check payable to the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge to my attention at 23 Glendale Rd., Marblehead, MA  01945.  We are just over halfway to my goal and I am hopeful that we’ll surpass it before Marathon Monday.  Just 10 weeks to go!  Thank you for the support!

Stay warm, and think SPRING!
With gratitude,

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

2015 Be good. Be strong. Shirts

 The 2015 "Be good. Be strong." shirts are here, but only until February 9!  You have to use the online shop to place your order (link below) and the shirts will be delivered to you in mid-February!  There will not be a second round this year so don't delay!!

Proceeds from the sale of the shirts will go to fund innovative cancer research in Boston.  The research that has been funded through this program is making a huge impact in the future of cancer for all types of cancer.

There are 2 options for shirts:  100% cotton and cool-dry performance material.  Both options come in youth sizes.  The cotton shirts are $20 and the technical fabric shirts are $25.

Last year, we almost filled a map of the US with people from all over the country helping to support this important cause.  Since we began last week, we've begun to fill the map again and are off to a great start....with Massachusetts and Tennessee the most represented state so far.  Please let us know where you are from so we can fill your state, too!  And feel free to share with your friends and family. 

On Marathon Monday, we ask that everyone wear their shirt and send photos.  It was so motivational to see so many people sharing the message that our family has truly come to embrace.

To order:

For more about the meaning of the shirts:

Friday, January 9, 2015

Every day, I fight

For those of you who are ESPN fans and/or many who spend any time on social media, you may be aware of the death of Stuart Scott on Sunday.  He was a long-time ESPN anchor, reporter, story teller, sports fan who also as became a role model of perseverance, strength, family, and humility throughout 7 years of dealing with cancer.
As I sat down with a cup of coffee to check out Sunday Morning on CBS and SportsCenter on ESPN, the first thing I tuned into was a tribute to Stuart Scott, knowing immediately that he had died.  The depth and nature of the disease was evident back in August when he accepted the Jimmy V award at the ESPYs.  Through the words in his speech, although not implicitly stated, it was clear that cancer was taking a big toll on his life.

My sister, Mary, had said she hated when people used the phrase "lost the fight or battle" when talking about cancer because it clearly states that there's a winner and loser, and that if ultimately cancer is the cause for loss of life, that you've been beaten.  However, Mr. Scott beautifully said in his speech something very similar:  "When you die, it does not mean you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live."  Those words exemplify the living example I've seen through my family and friends:  the fight and laughter and will and strength no matter what turns the situation may take.

It was tough to watch the tributes from his colleagues and athletes.  Emotional.  Reflective.  Honorable.   I didn’t know Stuart Scott.  Had never met him.  But seeing that hurt and hearing that sorrow they shared was tough.  It always brings my emotions straight to the surface, knowing that so many were experiencing such a difficult loss and were beginning the process of grieving their dad,  brother, son, friend, or co-worker.  Bearing witness to the disbelief that there is someone who was so special to their lives that they will never see again was heartbreaking.  As Stuart Scott was someone well known through his television job, it was certainly a more public tribute than the experience of most, but what we witnessed on the screen was people truly grieving, and seeing that very real emotion and that raw hurt can make you mourn someone you have never met.

This day and every day, about 1,500 people in our country lose their lives due to cancer.  1,500 families today are saying goodbye.  1,500 families are grieving.  1,500 groups of friends and neighbors are trying to figure out how to support their friends and manage their own sorrow.  It’s a big, big number.  

Stuart Scott wore a shirt that said: Every Day, I Fight.  Every Day.  We can’t give up.  Every day, we have to fight.  For our family and friends and for those we’ve never met because whether you know them or not, there are millions of people in the thick of it and they need to know that every day, someone is fighting.

Be good. Be strong.

Please consider helping the DFMC team fight by making a gift to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute: