Each Friday leading up to the 2013 Boston Marathon, I am turning my blog over to a friend, family member, or DFMC teammate to share and reflect. Jack Fultz has been coaching runners and building training plans for many years following his win in the 1976 Boston Marathon. I know that each DFMC runner, over the last 24 years, is greatly appreciative of the abundant wisdom he has bestowed on us. This is Jack, in his own words, reflecting where this journey started.
Thanks, Eric, for inviting me to join your “SixforSix” blog series. Writing “What the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge means to me” in 500 words is in itself a challenge. This year’s Boston Marathon will be DFMC’s 24th and my 25th with Dana-Farber. There are runners on our team who weren’t born when we began in 1990 - that’s a scary thought.
That is not a trick in the first paragraph – that this is my 25th year of involvement in a 24-year-old event. The event that preceded, by one year, the inception of DFMC in 1990 included a Harvard freshman whom I’d coached as an 8th grader, a Dana-Farber employee whom I befriended during this pre-DFMC event and me.
In the fall of 1988 Mike Silverstein lost his best friend, Seth Feldman – a Dartmouth College freshman, to brain cancer. Devastated by his loss, Mike visited Dana-Farber with a burning desire to continue Seth’s quest of raising money for, and awareness of more research into the causes of cancer. It was there Mike met Greg Gross of the Dana-Farber Development Office.
They quickly learned of each other’s love of running - in particular the Boston Marathon. Greg had already run it. Mike, having helped his father staff a marathon water stop as a youngster, had vowed to run it one day with Seth. Greg suggested they train together and run the ‘89 Boston Marathon and Mike could raise money for Dana-Farber in Seth’s memory.
Mike and I had kept in touch through his high school years so he called to tell me their plan and asked if I’d help them train. Of course I said yes. We developed their training calendar and I occasionally joined them for runs.
The Boston Globe printed a lengthy article on Mike and Seth’s story. At the time, I was serving as the Elite Athlete Liaison for the Boston Athletic Association, and I informed a local TV station of their story. A lengthy video was produced and aired on the Channel 7 evening news. Mike and I also ran with a few local running clubs to spread the word of his fundraising efforts. By Patriots’ Day, Mike had raised more than $35,000.
Dana-Farber Trustees, Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver watched Mike and Greg’s marathon project with keen personal interest. They had met Greg several years earlier when they first contacted Dana-Farber with an interest in starting a research program in Delores’ mother’s name. Given the success of their marathon race and Mike’s fundraising efforts, the Weavers challenged Greg to build a team of runners for the 1990 Boston Marathon and raise money for the Claudia Adams Barr Program in Basic Innovative Cancer Research, then in its fourth year of existence. As an incentive, they offered a $50,000 challenge grant to match the runner-raised funds dollar-for-dollar.
Greg invited me to help build and train the team. Bill and Peter Santis, Dr. Sidney Farber’s grandsons, had simultaneously approached Dana-Farber with a desire to build a similar fundraising event. The coincidence of these events created a perfect storm of sorts. Our collaborative efforts recruited 19 runners, some of who were heretofore non-runners, to run the 1990 Boston Marathon and collectively raise $50,000 to trigger the full Weaver family challenge grant. The team exceeded its goal by $1,000, all 19 runners finished the marathon and the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge was born.
Mike is now happily married with two children and is a pediatrician here in Boston. Greg earned his Ed.D. at Harvard and joined the Weavers in Jacksonville to direct the then new NFL franchise Jaguars’ non-profit Jaguars Foundation. After developing the Foundation to a leadership position in NFL philanthropies, Greg moved his family back to his Chicago roots and now directs a large health-related non-profit organization. The Weavers recently sold their principal ownership of the NFL Jaguars but they remain Dana-Farber Trustees and an inspiration to DFMC runners.
I have very much enjoyed my small role in the growth of DFMC over the past 24 years. It has afforded me the opportunity to stay involved with the running world, to leverage what successes I enjoyed during my competitive years, and I’ve developed countless friendships over all those years. DFMC has grown to more than 550 runners with a collective goal this year of raising $4.6 million dollars. In the previous 23 years DFMC has raised more than $56 million for the Barr Program.
Until we achieve a world without cancer, we’ll all just keep on keepin’ on!!