Thank you, thank you to the hundred plus beautiful people who donated to the Jimmy Fund, which supports the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
Led by our captain and cancer-survivor George Derby (my weekly ping pong partner), eight of us on Team Barry will walk the last 10K of the actual Boston Marathon course on the penultimate Sunday of September 2018.
Driving a good hour south from Maine, we assemble in Newton, Massachusetts to collect our Jimmy Fund tee-shirts, bibs, and hats. As one of the Top 250 fundraisers (#76!), I have earned special recognition including a sweet dry-fit Jimmy Fund tee-shirt. Then in a surprise move, the volunteer offers tee-shirts and caps to our grandsons, Owen (6) and Max (4), and their dad Tip who have come to support me. That volunteer, whom I refer to as the “gardener” has planted the seeds for three future Jimmy Fund walkers by her generosity.
Walking a half mile to Commonwealth Avenue to meet up with some of the 9000 other walkers, Owen, Max, and Tip join me for the first mile of my walk. With Sunday morning cars to our right, we four walk the sidewalks and town lawns towards Boston.
Over the next six miles, I have three refueling stops with bananas, apples, energy bars, cookies, peanut-butter crackers (a personal favorite), and bottles of water.
As I walk, I call out to two women three feet ahead of me, asking about the names on the back of their shirts. The names list friends and family of theirs who bravely fought cancer. Another time, I chat up a woman who is walking the half-marathon (i.e. 13.1 miles) course to raise awareness and money for cancer research and the care of cancer patients.
I ask another what the NB on her team tee shirt is for. Neuro-blastoma – one nasty cancer that generally strikes kids under ten. It seems forty have come from Chatham on Cape Cod to support a 13-year old girl who for the last nine years has been battling NB.
Later, near the end I happen to walk beside Amy, the organizer of the NB team and, in fact, the mom of the 13-year old daughter with NB. My big takeaway from our conversation is that caring for kids with cancer can take over your life. The fears, the setbacks, the small victories consume everyone in its path.
How in the world do such families ever have the strength to go toe to toe day after day with such a formidable foe? Basically it is very simple, they have no choice. Their kid needs them to step up. I believe, you, too, would rally the strength and courage if you had to!
After three hours of walking and learning the stories of others, our entire Team Barry crosses the finish line at Copley Square for our walking medals, clam chowder, creamsicles, pizza, and deluxe salads.
I know how fortunate I am to be healthy and fit enough to walk for all those touched by cancer and to have some many amigas and amigos to support my walk.
Thank you Adele, Amelia, Amey, a couplet of Anns, Anna, Anne, Anneli, Anthony, Barbara, Becky, Beth, Bills aplenty, Bob, Bobby, Brenda, Brian, Bruce, Callie, Cam, Carla, Chris, Cindy, Clarissa, Claudia, Cyndy, a few Daves, a few Debbys, Denny, Derek, Diane, Dixie, a pair of Dons, Donna, Duncan, Elsa, Eric, Genevieve, George, Gibby, Glenn, a pair of Janes, a duo of Jeffs, Joanne, Joel, John, Jon, Joy, two Karas, Karens galore, Kim, Linda, Laurie, dos Laurels, a helping of Lisas, Liz, Lou, Lynne, Mac, Mandy, Mark or two, Marta, a Mary or two, Matt times two, Maureen, Maxine, some Mikes, Mitch, Molly, Nan, a passel of Nancys, Neil, Nolan, Norm, Pat, Patty, a sprinkling of Pauls, two Paulas, Penny, Peter, Rich, Rick, Richard, Ron, Sally, Sandy, Scot, Scott, Sheila, Shirley, Sue, Suzanne, Tammy, Tara, Targe, Ted, Tip, Tom, Tree, Wanda, Wendy, and Will.