On the Road with Dana-Farber’s Run Any Race Program

Dana-Farber’s Run Any Race program is the à la carte option of Dana-Farber’s running program– run any race you want, of any distance, in any city, at any time. The Run Any Race “team” is made up of individual runners from all over the country, comprising a variety of ages, running backgrounds, and preferred race distances. Although these runners may never run side by side, they have one major thing in common – an unwavering commitment to conquering cancer through fundraising and running.

To highlight their shared dedication to the fight against cancer of our Run Any Race participants, we asked five Run Any Race runners to answer a few questions. Their responses reveal how special and fulfilling the Run Any Race program is, and how every mile can make a difference. So, let’s hit the road, and meet five incredible runners who are all running toward the ultimate finish line: a world without cancer.

ALI COUGHLIN (New York, NY)

Ali (left) and her fiancée Artie
Ali (left) and her fiancée Artie

What race did you run as a Run Any Race participant?
My fiancée, Artie, and I ran the 2014 New York City Marathon on November 2, 2014.

Did you run in honor or memory of a loved one?
We ran in honor of my father, Michael Coughlin, who received treatment for lung cancer at Dana-Farber/Brigham Women’s Cancer Center this past spring and summer. My dad is a strong guy who faced an intensive series of treatments head-on. He was one of our biggest supporters during our marathon training and he cheered us on during a cold and windy race day!

Why did you choose to run for Dana-Farber?
We chose to run for Dana-Farber when my Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer in March 2014. We realized how lucky we were to have access to Dana-Farber’s world-class doctors and resources. The diagnosis of cancer was frightening, but as soon as my family walked through the doors of Dana-Farber, we knew we were in excellent hands. The Run Any Race program allowed us to channel our gratitude for Dana-Farber into a fundraiser to support the research fund at Dana-Farber’s Lowe Center for Thoracic Oncology.

KEN GRITZAN (Cranberry Township, PA) 

Ken (right) and his friend Bill Rogers
Ken (right) and his friend Bill Rogers

What races have you run as a Run Any Race participant?
The Pittsburgh Great Race 10K. While living in MA, I also ran the Falmouth Road Race with Dana-Farber from 2005-2012.

Did you run in honor or memory of a loved one?
I run in memory of my son Kurt Gritzan who we lost in April 2006 to Ewing’s Sarcoma.

Why did you choose to run for Dana-Farber?
After all the good Dana-Farber did to try and save Kurt, fundraising is a way I can give back. The Run Any Race program provides greatfundraising tools, including guidance on sending fundraising emails, customized letters, banners, etc.  I miss running Falmouth and the “Go Dana-Farber!” cheers, but being a bit of an ambassador here in western PA for Dana-Farber is very fulfilling.

BRUCE LATHAM (South Kingston, RI)

What race do you run as a Run Any Race participant?
I have participated in The Blessing of the Fleet 10 Mile Road Race in Narragansett, RI for the past 15 yrs.

Do you run in honor or memory of a loved one?
I decided to walk the race to raise money for cancer research when I was diagnosed with cancer. I was treated successfully for my prostate cancer and consider myself a cancer survivor. I recently lost two close friends to cancer, and dedicated mylast 2 races to them. Both were in my wedding party. One was my best man and a life-long friend of 60 yrs. The other was a fellow marathon runner.

Why do you choose to run for Dana-Farber?
In a small way, raising money to fund research to fight this deadly disease eases my heartache of losing my best friends.

GENINE & MATT CARLSON (Somerville, NJ)

Matt (left) and Genine Carlson
Matt (left) and Genine Carlson

What races have you run as Run Any Race participants?
We have run in several races over the years, including Mooseman Triathlon in Bristol, NH, Timberman 70.3 in Gilford, NH, and Mt. Tremblant 70.3 (triathlon) in Mt. Tremblant, Quebec.

Did you run in honor or memory of a loved one?
We run in memory of Nathan Carlson, Judy Carlson, Dan Dare, and Mike Chobot. We run in honor of Katie Brink and Kay Knapp.

Why did you choose to run for Dana-Farber?
In July 2006, our nephew, Nathan Carlson (7 years old), passed away after his seven month battle with leukemia. When Nathan was in treatment, he overheard a conversation about another patient’s surgery being postponed due to lack of the patient’s blood type in the hospital. At age seven, Nathan was baffled that there wasn’t enough blood for the surgery. “Why isn’t there enough?” he asked his mom. “Don’t they know we are here?” The thought of this innocent question still breaks my heart, and it’s really why we race—to raise awareness and funds to support the research conducted by Nathan’s doctor, Dr. Eva Guinan.

We have also lost Matt’s mom, Judy and our dear friends Dan and Mike. We are happy to report that Matt’s cousin, Katie, has won her fight against leukemia. And thanks to a recent clinical trial, my Aunt Kay is hopeful as she perseveres through her third war against lymphoma. It is in their honor that we choose to race… a choice that has proven to be life changing.

Learn more how you can join the ranks of these amazing folks and raise funds for Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund through our Run Any Race program!

Have you run a race for Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!