While parking cars with his dad as a volunteer for the 1996 Boston Marathon, Glenn Strickland decided that he would run it the following year in honor of his 40th birthday. Little did he know that his involvement , and the money he raised, would one day aid in saving his life.
“I started running in honor of my 40th birthday,” Strickland said. “At the time my goal was to run ten years and raise $100,000. Today, I run because I have lost an uncle and other friends to cancer and I want to continue to make a difference.”
This year will be Strickland’s fifteenth run, and if he make his $10,000 goal, he will have raised $115,000 for innovative cancer research.
“I was diagnosed with tonsil cancer last year,” Strickland said. “I had my tonsils removed in July and underwent radiation and chemo. I had a chance to speak with the doctor and he told me we are where we are because of the innovative research money that has been raised.”
Strickland, along with three other Hopkinton residents - Brian Herr, Emily Blake and Gail Welsh - are members of the Dana Farber Boston Marathon team. All of the money they raise goes to the Claudia Adams Barr program.
According to the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge website, “The Claudia Adams Barr Program in Innovative Basic Cancer Research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is widely recognized as one of the largest and most successful programs of its kind. Based on a rigorous and highly selective process, the Barr Program funds the brightest, most creative scientists making basic research discoveries that are transforming cancer reatment.”
Strickland feels strongly about continuing to fund this program.
“We are making great strides,” Strickland said. “Unfortunately, we are still losing people but we have seen tremendous gains.”
One of the biggest gains has been in the area of children’s brain tumors. The success rate is now well over 90 percent.
Strickland is not your typical runner. He only runs one race a year, for one reason - to raise money for an organization he believes in.
“I train starting in the fall and early winter and train for Boston only,” Strickland said. “ I was trained my first year by a Dana Farber coach and finished in under five hours, this year my only goal is to cross the finish line.”
Racers are required to raise $3500 each to participate on the team, but most on the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge team have their sites set much higher. The Dana Farber team hopes to raise $4.8 million in celebration of their 23rd year.
“Our goal is to live in a world without cancer,” Strickland said. “And for that to happen, we need to continue to fund innovative research.”
Strickland and his teammates are looking forward to race day, but admit it’s work.
“We really need people to donate,” Strickland said, “ but if they cannot, we would love for them to come to the race and cheer anyone wearing a Dana Farber T-shirt to victory. Scream go Dana Farber. The support at the race really makes a difference.”
To support a runner go to rundfmc.org and then enter the person’s name.