Southborough man to run marathon for young cancer patient
By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Southborough – As runners get in their final miles of training for the 117th Boston Marathon, which will take place Monday, April 15, one local runner has his sights set on a different prize.
Jim Richardson will be lacing up his sneakers and taking to the pavement to participate in his fourth Boston Marathon. He runs not for the glory or the recognition. Rather, he runs on behalf of a friend's son who is battling neuroblastoma – a malignant cancerous tumor that develops from nerve tissue.
Richardson met Pat and Dina Lacey when they worked together at Thomson Financial in Boston.
During a 2007 conversation with a coworker, Richardson learned that Pat's 2-year-old son, Will, had been diagnosed with neuroblastoma. He also learned that Pat had begun a blog detailing his son's medical battle.
“I started reading the blog every day,” Richardson said, “and realized that Will was about the same age as my daughter, Audrey. On Pat's blog he discussed the various treatments that Will was going through along with stories about people who were fundraising to support Will's doctors.”
It was a blog post written in the fall of 2006 that touched Richardson and prompted him to act.
“One day Pat wrote a post on the blog that was very difficult to read. It was titled “The Meeting You Never Want To Have,” which described the head of pediatric oncology at Dana Farber telling Pat and Dina that Will's cancer was “incurable” and the best they could hope for was to delay the inevitable. This post really affected me and I knew then that I needed to do something.”
A few days after reading this post, Richardson came up with the “crazy” idea of running the Boston Marathon to raise money for Will. Before sharing his idea with anyone, though, Richardson set out to see how far he could run.
“I wasn's in very good shape, but I went out and ran as far as I could. It seemed like it must have been six or seven miles, but when I got home and traced the route with my car, the odometer clocked it at only four miles. In any case, that seemed far enough to make the Marathon feasible.”
The next day at work Richardson called Pat and asked him if they could meet for coffee. Richardson told Pat that he had been following the blog and wanted to do something to help. Then he shared his “crazy” idea about running the Boston Marathon for Will.
“When I saw the look in Pat's eyes, I realized that I had just made a very big commitment and there was no backing out,” Richardson recalled.
Richardson ran his first Marathon in 2007, raising $75,000 for neuroblastoma cancer research. He ran for again in 2008 and 2010, raising a total of $110,000 for cancer research – and Will.
“For me, the biggest obstacle is making the initial commitment,” Richardson said. “Once the commitment is made, everything falls into place. I have learned that I am able to push myself to do things like running a marathon that I would have never thought possible.”
Richardson has been training to run the Marathon again this year. He will be running for Will and the other children with neuroblastoma – to offer them treatment options that infuse hope, a decent quality of life, and give them a chance to simply live.
“This experience has given me an appreciation of the frustrations that parents of children with neuroblastoma experience related to the lack of funding for this terrible disease. There is a strong feeling this is a curable disease, but there is a lack of funding for research,” Richardson said.
Today, Will is doing remarkably well. Despite almost eight years of cancer treatment, he has become a talented hockey player, even playing recently playing in a hockey tournament on Cape Cod.
Visit Richardson's fundraising page at: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/jimrichardson/bostonmarathon
To read Pat's blog, visit: www.willlacey.com.
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