The Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge (DFMC) attracts runners from across the globe as they take on 26.2 miles in support of innovative basic research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute each year. The 2022 team included more than 500 dedicated individuals who ran the renowned route from Hopkinton to Boylston St. for the 126th Boston Marathon.® The roster of runners included cancer patients and survivors, Dana-Farber employees, and friends and family participating in tribute to loved ones affected by cancer. While each teammate brought a unique perspective, all were united in their unwavering commitment to accelerate Dana-Farber’s pace to the ultimate finish line: a world without cancer.
This season’s DFMC team raised nearly $7 million for the Claudia Adams Barr Program in Innovative Basic Cancer Research. The program selects the brightest, most creative scientists and funds their most innovative ideas to propel basic research discoveries that transform cancer treatment—bolstering a key strategic priority of The Dana-Farber Campaign. Since the Marathon Challenge’s inception in 1990, one hundred percent of all DFMC fundraising efforts have supported the Claudia Adams Barr Program, with more than $115 million raised by the team to date.
“We see our fundraising dollars drive meaningful progress through the results of the program investigators,” said Scott Raven, a six-time DFMC runner who runs to honor his mother, who passed away from breast cancer. “If you get what you give in this world, then being an advocate for Dana-Farber is one of the easiest ‘gives’ of my life.” This season was especially important to Scott as he proudly achieved $100,000 in lifetime fundraising for DFMC.
Many runners return year after year not only to support Dana-Farber’s mission, but also for the team camaraderie. Heather Daley and Heather Kispert Hagerty each celebrated their 25-year milestones with DFMC this season. Heather Daley’s commitment to Dana-Farber goes beyond running, as she has worked in the Novel Cell Therapy Lab at the Institute for more than 40 years. “I have seen firsthand that research leads to lifesaving treatments, and I plan to continue to run the marathon with Dana-Farber as long as my body is willing,” she said.
Heather Kispert Hagerty’s relationships extend beyond her teammates thanks to her Patient Partner Program participation. “I have been partnered with two patients,” Heather said. “I became very close to the first patient’s family, continuing to run in her memory since her passing. The second patient is the daughter of family friends who was diagnosed with cancer at age four. She recently graduated from college, with plans to be a pediatric oncology nurse. I continue to write their names on my legs each year—they are the wings that carry me.”
Alfonso Carrillo and Stephany Garza embarked on their first marathon together with DFMC in April. “Surreal does not even begin to describe our first marathon experience,” Alfonso said. “One of our family members was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia after we completed the marathon and Dana-Farber was there to help us navigate this difficult situation.” Stephany notes that their efforts have taken on new meaning now that they are feeling the blanket of support from Dana-Farber. “It’s hard to express the gratitude that we feel seeing the research and care directly benefitting our family. We have many more miles to run to continue to support Dana-Farber, and we encourage others to do the same.”