Heather's 2000 marathon letter

Dear friends,

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!

This unintentional 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.


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Last updated on March 29, 2008 .
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