Message from Dr. Weinstein, Captain of the MGH Marathon Team: Fighting Kids’ Cancer…One Step At A Time

Dear MGH friends,

This year has been like no other for our Mass General marathon team. We were very lucky that none of our runners or their families were physically injured from the bombings.

The past weeks have been an extremely difficult time for all of us. We shared a range of emotions that have made us more of a family than in any previous year. We bonded during training runs and shared the highs of the pasta dinner and mile 20 celebration and the confusion and horror after the bombings at the finish line.

I can’t thank our runners and our supporters enough for their continued dedication and commitment to our patients and their families. In the wake of the devastation that occurred at the finish line, it is hard to think about, no less fundraise for, anything other than those families who lost loved ones and those people who were injured.

The great showing of care and compassion that you all witnessed after the Boston Marathon© bombings is the kind of care and compassion provided every day to the children at the MassGeneral Hospital for Children Cancer Center. I am going to continue to fundraise for these children because I know firsthand the direct benefit these children receive from marathon dollars.

One of the things that makes our team special is the patient-partner program, which helps runners understand what it’s like for kids to have cancer therapy. Two years ago, I ran in honor of a 7-year-old girl named Alexandra, who had leukemia. She always brightened my day, made me laugh and was adored by everyone. Sadly, Alexandra died this past summer after enduring a second bone marrow transplant. Her memory and spirit were with me every step of the way.

I also ran to honor Carson, a high school sophomore who recently completed treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma. Nationally ranked in squash, Carson kept up his grades and great attitude during therapy and is now back on the tournament circuit. I met Carson at mile 20, and we started running — dreaming of crossing the finish line together. We were stopped around Kenmore Square, along with several other teammates. We huddled together in shock and disbelief.

Two other former cancer patients, Lindsey Beggan and Elizabeth Shea, were part of this year’s team. These courageous young women met at the pasta dinner the night before the marathon and ran together. Elizabeth’s dad, Michael, also ran on our team this year and had hoped to cross the finish line with his daughter. The three of them were stopped a mile from the finish line, but are determined to come back next year.

I couldn’t be more proud of this year’s team and their passion in continuing to raise funds for kids with cancer. The outpouring of support for this team has been incredible — so many emails and cards from former team members about how much they cherished being part of our Mass General team.

Every year, we make great strides in curing children with cancer. Thinking about Alexandra and Carson and the far too many others will more than motivate me to get to the finish line next year.

With much gratitude and friendship,

Howard Weinstein, MD

In 2014, Dr. Weinstein will run in the Boston Marathon© for the 24th time. Thanks to the partnership with the John Hancock Non-Profit Marathon Program, the team has raised nearly $9 million in 16 years. These funds not only save children’s lives, they also improve the quality of those lives through patient care, research and the child life program. Please make a gift in support of a runner or donate directly in support of the team.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Another MGH team of a dozen runners participated in the 2013 Boston Marathon©, raising more than $70,000 to benefit cystic fibrosis care and research at Mass General. A few days after the event, Miles for Mass General, Cystic Fibrosis Marathon Team founder Allen Lapey, MD, sent those runners an email expressing his thanks and determination.