On the morning of September 25, 2016, thousands of walkers will lace up for the Boston Marathon® Jimmy Fund Walk presented by Hyundai as they prepare to honor all those affected by cancer. For two Team Captains, the day will also mark another shared experience. Former roommates Erica Agrodnia and Danielle Beauchamp will both lead teams in honor of their mothers, each of whom received treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
“We’re making the weekend about all our friends and families being together in Boston, celebrating each of our moms,” said Erica. “Having us all there together will be really special.”
Erica and Danielle, both 24, met as students at the University of Maryland, where they became friends, sorority sisters, and then roommates.
Like many college friends, the two developed a strong friendship, one that became even more important to the women when Erica’s mother, Paula, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in January 2016. That diagnosis marked another shared experience: watching their mothers battle cancer.
Danielle’s mother, also named Erica, battled Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma for six years before passing away in 2006.
“She was so strong and fought for such a long time,” said Danielle, “and seeing that encouraged me to be a strong independent person myself. I try to thrive in everything I do— something I attribute to my mom.”
So when Erica Agrodnia faced the news of her own mother’s diagnosis, Danielle was able to be not only a sympathetic friend, but also an empathetic confidant.
“Danielle is always asking how my mom is doing,” said Erica. “She knows it’s a continued challenge every single day; she knows the right questions to ask, and she is aware that it’s always on my mind.”
Danielle says that her personal experience helps her know how to be a supportive friend to Erica.
“I know how I felt going through everything with my mom, so I try to be thoughtful, which is the most important way to be a good friend,” said Danielle.
Erica leads team “Paula Strong,” in honor of her mother. Paula’s strength and positivity prompted Erica to start the team, comprised of friends, family, Paula’s nursing colleagues, and Paula herself. The group will walk the 5K route on Walk day.
“My mom is such an amazing mother,” said Erica. “She’s taken this all on in an incredible way, which isn’t surprising since she’s such a positive person.”
Danielle’s team, “Erica’s Friends,” will celebrate her mother’s life on Walk day, the 10-year anniversary of her passing. The team plans to commemorate Erica’s strength and love as they walk their 10K route.
“My mom continues to impact me every day,” said Danielle. “I think about her often, and always try to keep her in my mind.”
And keeping Erica Beauchamp’s memory alive is an area where Erica Agrodnia has reciprocated Danielle’s support. In talking about Danielle’s mother and the legacy she created, the young women bring her memory to life.
“I never got to meet Danielle’s mom, but in a way, I feel like I know her, and I can see her spirit in Danielle,” said Erica. “In becoming friends with Danielle, and knowing her family, and hearing so much about her mom, it feels important to me to recognize the woman who was so instrumental in shaping my amazing friend.”
Walk day will be an incredibly significant day for both Erica and Danielle. Leading Walk teams marks an opportunity for the young women to reconnect with family and friends to share another experience, one of strength, love, positivity, and tribute.
“We wanted to walk as a way for many people in our lives to celebrate our moms and the support they both received from everyone at Dana-Farber,” said Danielle. “It’s been a year of changes and milestones for both of us, and we’re excited to have everyone we love together celebrating such amazing women.”
Account Manager/Writer, Development Communications