A major in the U.S. Air Force Reserves and former active-duty pilot, this year John Gureckis is running the Boston Marathon®, his second marathon, with the Mass General marathon team in support of Home Base. Home Base is a program founded by Massachusetts General Hospital and the Red Sox Foundation that is dedicated to healing the invisible wounds of war for Veterans of all eras, Service Members, Military Families and Families of the Fallen.
A Devastating Diagnosis
John’s first experience at Mass General came in the form of devastating health news for his younger sister, Jenny Gureckis. In 2011, Jenny was diagnosed with brain cancer and received treatment at the Mass General Cancer Center. Tragically, Jenny lost her battle to cancer in 2017, but before she passed, she began fundraising to support the research being done by William Curry, MD, and his team at the Mass General Translational Brain Tumor Immunology Lab. John recalls how Jenny and Dr. Curry bonded over their shared love of basketball, and Jenny’s special relationship with the nursing staff, who had a particularly significant impact on her experience as she was working her way through nursing school herself.
Since then, John and his family have raised more than $250,000 for brain cancer research at Mass General through The Jenny Fund, the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization they established in Jenny’s honor.
After Jenny passed, John made it his mission to carry on her fundraising efforts. “We wanted to make sure Dr. Curry and his team could pursue ideas there may not have been funding from elsewhere to support,” John explains. “Every time we meet, he’s so excited about the newest cutting-edge breakthroughs in medical research and everything they’ve been able to accomplish since we last spoke.”
A New Fundraising Role
This spring, John is switching gears with his fundraising. As a 2023 Boston Marathon runner, he is raising funds for a cause just as close to home, Home Base. “I think the work Home Base does to support the Families of Veterans is particularly important, because those are the folks who often don’t get the support they need,” John says. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 20 Veterans per day lose their lives to suicide. The work being done at Home Base plays a major role in addressing the public health crisis that is Veteran suicide.
John spent nine years as an Air Force instructor pilot. Throughout his career, he has flown more than 3,000 hours, with more than 500 Instructor hours, and 1,500 hours as pilot in command. As a current member of the Air Force Reserves, John now serves as an admissions liaison officer and outreach support leader, helping to mentor high school students pursuing a career in the Air Force. He is also a father to two children, chairman of the board of the Jenny Fund and an integrated program leader at Raytheon Technologies, a close partner of Home Base.
Supporting Home Base through his Boston Marathon run on April 17 means a great deal to John. In particular, he is inspired by his marathon’s focus on giving back to his fellow Service Members who may be at risk for suicide. “Some Veterans who are suffering make a decision, a horrible decision, and they leave a lot of folks behind to cope with the aftermath,” says John. “The work that Home Base does with the Families of Veterans who have lost their lives to suicide is so impactful. It is game-changing to be able to give them the tools to heal and keep living.”
To support John’s fundraising efforts for Home Base, click here.
To learn more about Mass General’s marathon team, click here.
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 more than 1,000 Boston Marathon® bibs to select non-profit organizations throughout the community, giving an opportunity to all to raise significant funds to advance their missions.
For 26 years, John Hancock has been our steadfast partner in the Marathon Non-Profit Program and with their support, we have raised more than $22 million for Mass General. We are deeply humbled and profoundly grateful for their longstanding dedication to our mission. Their trust in us helped us reach this pivotal moment in medicine, a moment that allows us now to reimagine the future of health care for all people, both locally and around the globe. 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.