Just as I was
about to sit down and write this letter one Sunday afternoon after
New Year’s, I took a quick detour to a local ice skating rink
to practice a little hockey – my idea of cross-training for
this year’s Boston Marathon. Suffice to say, I will never
be recruited by the Boston Bruins, let alone my town’s recreational
league, as I fell and broke my elbow. After a stern lecture from
my orthopedic surgeon on the finer points of elbow pads and a few
weeks’ recovery in a sling, I’m back out running - with
a wary eye to patches of ice for fear I’ll slip and break
the other elbow!
injury aside, the past year has renewed my hope that researchers
will find a cure for cancer in the new millennium. Last January,
I pledged to raise $10,000 by running the Boston Marathon in memory
of my friend, Brittany Lambert, who passed away in October 1998
from myelodsyplasia, a rare blood disorder which leads to leukemia.
I was amazed at the support and encouragement I received. Many responded
to my memories of Brittany with letters of inspirational stories
of their own friends and family, a task not easy for most.
I received donations
from family, friends, colleagues and even individuals whom I had
never known, but they felt deeply about cancer research, helping
me to raise $10,165 to benefit the Claudia Adams Barr Program which
funds basic cancer research. This was matched by $1500 from Wayne
and Delores Weaver, founders of the Barr Program. In all, over $11,500
was raised in memory of Brittany and 42 other cancer survivors and
victims whose names I wore on my Dana Farber shirt at the Boston
Marathon on April 19th.
Last year, I
couldn’t wait to reach Mile 25 at the bridge in Kenmore Square
where the Jimmy Fund kids wait for the Dana Farber runners. During
my first marathon in 1998, I was slowed down by injuries; Brittany,
patiently waiting for me at Mile 25, was feeling ill and had to
go home in the cold afternoon. In 1999, Brittany was gone, but her
mother, Linda, and sister, Brianne, promised to wait for me and
I was determined to make it in time. For twenty-five miles, I had
thought about what I would say to them when I reached the bridge.
When I arrived, words failed me and I cried as I hugged them.
A month after
the marathon, Brittany’s mother, Linda, contacted me. Despite
their enormous loss and great sorrow, her family established the
Brittany Lambert Foundation, an all volunteer charitable foundation
whose mission is to assist families whose children are battling
life-threatening illnesses or injuries, through either financial
or physical assistance. Linda asked me to join the Board of Directors,
and I became the Race Director for the 1st annual Brittany Lambert
Memorial Black Cat Classic 5K road race in October, when we raised
over $21,000 for Brittany’s Foundation. With this money, we
have “adopted” two families with ill children and have
plans to assist a third family with mortgage payments. In addition,
we have brightened the lives of children at the Jimmy Fund Clinic
and Children’s hospital through holiday celebrations, correspondence
with birthday greetings and cooking monthly family dinners at the
Ronald McDonald House. I think Brittany would be proud.
As I shed my
sling and return to my training program for my third Boston Marathon
on April 17th, I have decided to renew my goal to raise $10,000
for cancer research at Dana Farber in memory of Brittany. I hope
that you will consider contributing. 100% of your tax-deductible
donation funds Barr Program researchers at Dana Farber, ensuring
novel approaches in basic cancer research. While a cure was not
found in time for Brittany, I know that her memory will live on
as researchers help other young cancer victims.
Thank you in
advance for your support and encouragement.