Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge members run for cancer research

February 27, 2009

On April 20, several hundred runners will be taking steps toward helping cancer patients reach their ultimate finish line — survival — when they run the 2009 Boston Marathon to raise funds for cancer research.

This special group of runners comprises the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge (DFMC) team. Participants on the DFMC team, who hail from across the United States as well as other countries, will run in the 113th Boston Marathon with a goal of raising $4.8 million for the Claudia Adams Barr Program in Innovative Basic Research at Dana-Farber. This year marks the 20th running of the DFMC.

Each DFMC runner commits to both training and fundraising, raising a minimum of $3,000 apiece to participate. The funds raised go to the Barr Program, which conducts important studies that hold the promise of achieving major advances in understanding, overcoming and, eventually, eliminating cancer.

"Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge runners choose to take on the challenges of a marathon and fundraising to support those facing an even more difficult road," says DFMC Director Jan Ross. "These runners are athletic, passionate, and strive to make a difference in the lives of cancer patients."

In 1990, Dana-Farber was among the first charity organizations to be given official marathon numbers by the Boston Athletic Association (BAA). This year, 24 charities benefit from the BAA's charity program.

In the months leading up to race day, the DFMC team receives tips and encouragement thanks to an exclusive and tested training and support program. Coached by 1976 Boston Marathon winner Jack Fultz, DFMC runners attend group runs and training sessions, as well as social events and informational meetings. They are also treated to a pre-marathon pasta party and pep rally, indoor facilities at the starting area in Hopkinton, and a post-race celebration.

Over the past 19 years, DFMC runners have raised more than $39 million to support the innovative research of more than 100 scientists. The Barr Program was established in 1987 by Dana-Farber trustees Delores Barr Weaver and J. Wayne Weaver, in memory of her mother who passed away from cancer in 1957. Each year the Weavers issue a significant challenge grant that provides additional inspiration to the runners as they strive to reach the team's fundraising goal.

Since the beginning of the DFMC, the Boston Athletic Association has given a limited quantity of its coveted race entries to Dana-Farber each year. Potential Marathon Challenge runners apply for the team many months before the race is held. DFMC runners include cancer survivors and patients, and family and friends of those who have been affected by cancer.

To contribute to the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge, go online to www.RunDFMC.org or contact the DFMC office at 617-632-1970 or dfmc@dfci.harvard.edu.

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