The Mass General Marathon Program, which will field two large teams for the 2015 Boston Marathon, has grown by leaps and bounds since its humble beginnings in 1998.
That year, just 10 runners raised $45,000 to support the childhood cancer clinic at the MassGeneral Hospital for Children. Since then, thanks to the partnership with the John Hancock Non-Profit Marathon Program, the kids’ cancer team has raised a total of $10 million and has grown to more than 100 runners each year. In 2015, for the second year, the Mass General Emergency Response Team will also be running as part of the Mass General Marathon Program.
The cancer team’s $10 million achievement is a thrill for Howard Weinstein, MD, chief of the Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology and marathon team captain. He started the MassGeneral Hospital for Children Cancer Center team to honor brave young patients who face their own marathons every day in their quest for long and healthy lives.
Dr. Weinstein says that the millions raised by the kids’ cancer team have been instrumental to expanding the research and patient support program. “The incredible impact of the Mass General Marathon Program is evident on a daily basis as we care for childhood cancer patients and their families,” he says.
Impact of Mass General Marathon Program
MGHfC Cancer Center team marathon funds support child life specialists who help families manage the stress that illness and hospitalization can bring. Activities like music and art distract patients and siblings from the real reason for being there. With severe cuts in federal grants, marathon dollars also save lives by advancing research to find new drugs that fight tumors.
The kids’ cancer team at Mass General is noteworthy for its patient-partner program. It offers a special opportunity for runners to be paired with a patient. Others run in honor of a family member or friends. “We wish that the phrase, ‘kids with cancer,’ did not exist,” Dr. Weinstein says. “I am so grateful for John Hancock’s support and the runners who are committed to our team. It makes an impact.”
The team is committed to its tagline –“Fighting Kids’ Cancer: One Step at a Time.” The cure rates for childhood cancer have increased from 50 to 85 percent during the past 20 years and continue to improve. Despite this progress, childhood cancer is responsible for the deaths of more children and teenagers than any other disease. That’s why Dr. Weinstein is still running. Next April, he will lace up his sneakers for his 25th consecutive Boston Marathon.
MGH Emergency Response Team is Back
Dr. Weinstein will be in good company. For the second straight year, the Mass General Marathon Program will field another team. Initially launched by the Boston Athletic Association to thank first responders after the 2013 marathon bombing, this year’s Mass General Emergency Response Team is supported by John Hancock.
Team captain David Brown, MD, chief of the Department of Emergency Medicine, is delighted to lead one of two teams in the Mass General Marathon Program. He credits Dr. Weinstein for his leadership and looks forward to learning from his experiences.
Mass General’s Emergency Response Team’s motto, “Ready When Seconds Count,” is fitting. Team runners raise money to make sure the hospital is ready for the next disaster – man-made or natural. Funds from the marathon support the training needed to develop a carefully integrated response that spans multiple departments.
Philanthropy is Critical
“There’s no room for error,” Dr. Brown says. “Our performance must be flawless. As in football, if one player of the 11 on the field doesn’t do the job, the play fails.”
Preparing for emergencies takes training and practice. And philanthropy is critical. Time spent training is not reimbursed by insurance companies and often takes place outside of work hours. The monies raised by the Emergency Response Marathon Team enable the hospital to be ready at a moment’s notice, if needed.
For more information about the Mass General Marathon Program, please contact us.