Monday morning the opening gun will be fired to begin the Boston Marathon; a 26.2 mile course that starts in Hopkinton and finishes alongside the Boston Public Library outside Copley Square. And, once again, the town of Easton will have a strong presence for the 115th edition of the annual Patriots Day event.
One of those runners, Elizabeth Puopolo of North Easton, will be running for her ninth time. And, once again she will be running for the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team (on behalf of the Dana-Farber institute).
“Growing up in Boston, watching the Marathon was always part of April for me,” she said. “I knew friends who ran for Dana-Farber – Cindy Lehan in particular encouraged me to apply -- and in 2000, after a death of a dear friend from Easton [Andy Deegan] I decided I would apply to be part of the Dana-Farber team in 2001.”
Weeks later – during the fall of 2000 -- when Puopolo applied to be part of the Dana-Farber team, she heard that her sister-in-law, Nancy, and her sister, Theresa, were both diagnosed with breast cancer.
In the spring, Elizabeth dedicated her run to Nancy, Theresa, and other loved ones who lost their lives before.
“Within weeks of finding out I was on the Dana Farber team, I found out that both my sister and sister-in-law were diagnosed with breast cancer,” Elizabeth recalled.
“I dedicated my run to them as well as my father, my two brother in-laws and friends who had passed before then.”
Ten years later, Nancy has inspired by living her life as a breast cancer survivor, while Theresa showed great courage by running the race with her sister in 2007 (after being diagnosed in Stage IV of her treatment) and in 2009 (10 days after brain radiation). Unfortunately, Theresa lost her battle with cancer on July 6, 2010.
This year, Elizabeth will dedicate her run to her late sister. She is raising money for the Claudia Adams Barr Program.
“The Claudia Adams Barr Program in innovative basic cancer research is the beneficiary of 100 percent of the funds raised by the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge,” Puopolo explained.
“In this program, cutting edge research leads to new treatment discoveries and insight into the disease process of cancer. The treatment, which helped my sister after she was diagnosed in Stage IV in 2006 with a liver metastasis, was developed out of the Barr Program. The disease of cancer touches us all in some way and any advances helps us all.”
Over the course of the nine years, people have donated nearly $100,000 to Puopolo’s charity during the Marathon and the three Pan Mass Challenge’s she’s participated in. As of two weeks ago, the team was about $11,000 short of reaching that goal.
Whether she reaches the goal or not this year, Puopolo is humbled by the donations.
“I have been truly blessed with such generous and supportive donors,” she said. “I am humbled by the generosity from friends and family and I am honored to be a small part. They donate to honor all the loved one in honor of those fighting, in memory of those who died and in celebration of all who are survivors.”
Other Easton participants in the marathon include:
Balestino, Geo Jr.
Berry, Patricia J.
Birkey, Julie A.
Gilman, Matthew S.
Horris, Melanie S
Joyce, Jennifer A.
Kempner, Adam M.
Lupica, Sara L.
Powers, Kevin M.
Welch, Kate E.