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Donor Story

A Labor Day Marathon in Support of Veterans

Marine veteran Michael York ran the 124th Boston Marathon Virtual Experience on Labor Day to support Home Base and Mass General.

A Labor Day Marathon in Support of Veterans

Michael York at the summit of South Twin Mountain in New Hampshire (4,902ft) during a 33-mile hike, with Mount Washington in the background.

by
Albert McKeon
September 16, 2020

September is a busy month for Michael York. It started with his first Boston Marathon, which he ran on Labor Day, followed by two other leg-stretching events — hiking Mount Lincoln in New Hampshire and participating in the Run to Home Base.

[Michael] has seen firsthand the struggles that some servicemen and women deal with when they’re back home.

All three events benefit veterans who need support overcoming the invisible wounds of war. As a Marine Corps veteran, it’s a cause Michael, a resident of East Bridgewater, Massachusetts, is passionate about. He has seen firsthand the struggles that some servicemen and women deal with when they’re back home.

The iconic Boston Marathon was held as a virtual event because of the pandemic, and runners were asked to complete the 26.2-mile run between Sept. 5–14. Michael ran the marathon in support of Home Base, a Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Program that provides clinical care and treatment for post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, anxiety, depression and other issues associated with military service.

“I have run in the Run to Home Base every year since it began back in 2010 and plan on continuing to run as long as I am able,” Michael says. “I fully believe in its mission and want to help in any way possible, so running the Boston Marathon for Home Base was also a way to do that.”

A Marathon Unlike Any Other

After months of training, Michael was initially disappointed that his first Boston Marathon was postponed. Like most runners, he would miss the cheering crowds alongside the marathon route and the boost of being with other runners to help him push through the race’s toughest points. And in the spring, he was at his physical peak, whereas his training for the rescheduled marathon suffered because of injuries and summer heat.

“Postponing it was for the safety of everyone,” Michael says. “They did a good job creating the virtual run. They kept it as unofficially official as possible.”

Michael has raised more than $5,800 toward his $10,000 goal to benefit the Mass General Home Base team.

Running the marathon on Labor Day paid off. The weather was perfect: sunny with a runner’s ideal temperature of around 70 degrees. Michael’s friend Michael Best, an Army and Air Force veteran, rode a bicycle alongside him, handing him food and water, while friend Paul Martin, a Marine Corps veteran, ran the first 13 miles with him. Michael was delighted to see pockets of supportive crowds along the way. He completed the marathon in four hours and 39 minutes, just nine minutes longer than he had anticipated. “It wasn’t the experience you have at a normal marathon,” he says. “But I still feel like I was not robbed of anything. It still felt like the Boston Marathon.”

To date, Michael has raised more than $5,800 toward his $10,000 goal to benefit the Mass General Home Base team.

Supporting Fellow Veterans

On Sept. 12, Michael and about 20 veterans that he regularly hikes with trekked up Mount Lincoln as a tribute to the victims in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Each year, hundreds of hikers summit all 48 New Hampshire mountains taller than 4,000 feet to plant American flags to remember those who perished.

But that’s not the end of his efforts this month to support veterans. On Sept. 26, he’s running the 9K race in the annual Run to Home Base fundraising event. Typically held in the Kenmore area of Boston and concluding at Fenway Park, this year’s event will be virtual. Participants can run wherever they choose. Michael is looking forward to this next challenge, hoping he will have enough energy.

To support the Mass General Home Base Team, please visit Michael’s fundraising page.

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.