Conquering cancer unites marathon runners and families

Eric (right) with his dad, mom and sister.
Eric (left) with his dad, mom and sister.

When training as part of the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge (DFMC) team, everyday things take on a new meaning.

All distances are calculated in miles.
The grocery store is no longer around the block; it’s 0.17 miles away.

Anything is a fundraising opportunity.
Can I do a fundraiser where people pay to watch me eat as many tacos as possible?  

Running buddies become family.
I’ve spent more time with my running friends than anyone else in the last month!

Eric Kaye has run the Boston Marathon® as part of the DFMC team nine times (FYI – that’s 235.8 miles, plus thousands during training), and aims to reach Lifetime Achievement status–$100,000 in cumulative fundraising–this season. He runs in memory of his father, Harvey, who passed away in 1999 from lung cancer, and in honor of his sister, Blair, who was treated at Dana-Farber and overcame ovarian cancer. Eric feels a powerful connection to Dana-Farber’s mission, and weaving his family into the DFMC experience is a priority.

“Over the last few years my participation has shifted away from my own personal accomplishments and more to my family’s participation in the DFMC experience,” said Eric. “This shift started when my sister was in treatment at Dana-Farber. She was receiving chemotherapy and DFMC was the outlet for my family to impact the Dana-Farber mission.”

Every year, Eric’s mom and sister help with water stops and cheer on DFMC runners during training runs. On Marathon Monday, they are staples along the route encouraging Eric and his fellow DFMC teammates.

“What my mom and sister do to help provide that support system to me and all the other DFMC runners throughout the entire Marathon season, as well as along the Marathon course, is just one of the reasons that I am proud of our family’s participation,” shares Eric.

The DFMC community extends beyond running – the generosity of donors and the strength and courage of the Patient Partners motivate runners and Claudia Adams Barr Program researchers alike. There’s a kinship formed when volunteers hunker down at water stops or cheer stations. Barriers fall away, friendships are solidified, and the DFMC family continues to grow with each Boston Marathon® season.

When new runners join the DFMC team, they may not realize or be prepared for this warm family-like atmosphere. They can’t anticipate the relationships that are built while pushing the body to its physical limits, and the anticipation of what these newcomers will experience is uplifting for everyone on the team.

“Each year the excitement of the DFMC first-timers motivates and inspires me and other veteran runners. It truly is an incredible group of people, stretching beyond us runners. The DFMC family makes the overall experience even more meaningful,” says Eric.

Learn more about the runners, volunteers, and staff members who make up the DFMC team.

Katherine McIsaac 
Assistant Director, Development Communications