You are using an unsupported browser. Please use the latest version of Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Edge.
Boston Marathon® Runner Inspired by Mom

Members of the Cappetta family completing a marathon relay are, from left, Alyssa Cappetta, Charles Cappetta, MD, Kelsey Cappetta, Andrew Cappetta and Kate Cappetta. Andrew is running the 2019 Boston Marathon® in honor of his late mother.

Donor Story

Boston Marathon® Runner Inspired by Mom

By running the Boston Marathon® for Mass General, Andrew Cappetta aims to help kids with cancer and honor his mom, who bravely faced pancreatic cancer.

Jennifer Nejman Bohonak
March 12, 2019

Andrew Cappetta will run the 2019 Boston Marathon® for his late mother, Joan, whose strength and selflessness during cancer treatment have inspired him to train for five months and raise money to help children with cancer.

“My mom was incredibly strong. She never wanted us to worry.”

Joan Cappetta was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2012. At the time, her four children were on the cusp of adulthood, and some had left the family’s Hollis, New Hampshire, home to pursue college and careers. Andrew, her youngest, was a senior in high school.

For two years, Joan received care at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. She underwent surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and several other procedures. She did not want her children to move back home or place their dreams on hold. She told them that she knew they were always with her in spirit.

“My mom was incredibly strong,” Andrew says. “She never wanted us to worry. She would tell us that the biggest tragedy of all would be if we stopped pursing our own opportunities.”

Losing a Loved One

Pancreatic cancer is aggressive — about 20 percent of patients survive one year after diagnosis. Andrew credits his mother’s longer survival to the care she received at Mass General.

Andrew explains his gratitude for Mass General on his marathon fundraising page.”From the beginning, my family was told that the odds of beating this disease were small,” he writes. “However, that never weakened the spirits of my family or the care that the team of providers, nurses, secretaries and support staff provided. I will forever be grateful for the quality of care that my entire family received during the hardest part of our lives.”

Joan Cappetta
Joan Cappetta

Joan passed away on Oct. 15, 2014, surrounded by her family, following complications after a courageous two-year battle. Andrew tears up as he remembers saying goodbye to his mother. He was 20 years old and a student at the University of New Hampshire, his mother’s alma mater.

Now, Andrew lives and works in Boston. He thinks that while his mother would be proud of him for running the marathon, she would also be nervous about her “Andrew-man” taking on such a grueling race.

Running to Give Back

Andrew’s father, Charles Cappetta, MD, is a pediatrician in Nashua, New Hampshire. His aunt, Ann L. Prestipino, MPH, senior vice president, Surgery, Anesthesia, Emergency Medicine and Clinical Business Development, has worked at Mass General for her entire 38-year career. All three of his sisters, Kate, Kelsey and Alyssa, are pursuing careers in health care and they all worked at Mass General at some point in their careers. Andrew also had an internship at the hospital.

“Every day I marvel at my family members’ selflessness and the impact they are having upon the lives of others,” he writes on his marathon fundraising page.

Andrew says the marathon has given him a way of giving back, adding that the decision to run a marathon was not difficult. Because he is healthy and enjoys staying active, he feels at ease with training. He has also run half-marathons. His older sister Kelsey has run several marathons and has offered tips and encouragement. She told Andrew: “Just run one mile at a time, one day at a time.”

While training, Andrew reflects on his mother’s strength.

Confident about Boston Marathon® Goal

“Even on the worst day of training, when your legs hurt and you are tired, it’s nothing compared to what these children with cancer are going through,” Andrew says.

So far, Andrew has raised more than $11,000 for Mass General Hospital’s Pediatric Cancer Team through generous donations from friends and family members. He is confident he will reach his personal fundraising goal of $15,000.

As he prepares for the marathon, Andrew thinks of his mother and reflects on her strength in facing pancreatic cancer. He hopes by giving back, he can help to make a difference in the lives of children battling cancer.

To make a donation to the Mass General Hospital’s Pediatric Cancer Team, please contact us.

John Hancock-Mass General Boston Marathon® Partnership

Mass General is proud to be an official Partner of John Hancock in the Marathon Non-Profit Program. The Non-Profit Program provides over 1,000 Boston Marathon® bibs to select non-profit organizations throughout the community, which provides organizations with a significant fundraising opportunity. Last year, John Hancock Non-Profit Runners raised over $10M for their causes. Learn more about our John Hancock-Mass General Boston Marathon partnership that continues to provide significant support for our three signature causes: Pediatric Cancer, Emergency Medicine, and Home Base.