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!

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,