Paving the Way to Boston Marathon 2012: Since 1998, through a partnership between John Hancock Financial Services and MassGeneral Hospital for Children, the Mass General Marathon Team has raised more than $6.7 million to support pediatric cancer care. Each week leading up to the April 16th event date, we will post a story about the marathon, featuring a few of this year's runners along with Mass General experts who will provide tips on how to run a healthy race. Mass General Marathon Team Fighting Kids' Cancer … One Step at a Time
Father and Son Team Up for Boston Marathon
After watching his son Nathan, 13, serve as a MassGeneral Marathon Team patient partner for the last two years, Christopher Buliga decided it was time to run the Boston Marathon for his son. Nathan was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, in 2010.
“I watch Nathan and every day he amazes me more with his strength and courage and that is what inspires me to do more,” Buliga said. “I can’t sit on the sidelines when there is so much more that I can do. Nathan fights through this every single day and all I have is one big long run on one day. I think I have the easy part.”
Buliga’s decision to run was also sparked by his son’s past marathon partner, Dr. David Harmon, a medical oncologist with the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Stephan L. Harmon Center for Chordoma Care. The first year Harmon ran for Nathan, Buliga was waiting with his son at Mile 20 – the traditional gathering place for the MassGeneral Marathon Team supporters – holding a handmade sign for the doctor. Harmon spotted the pair and stopped to take pictures.
Buliga, a 43-year-old computer systems analyst for Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, has never run a marathon before, but he’s not worried.
Nathan’s stepped in as his dad’s coach – offering his dad advice and tracking his progress on his own website http://nathanbuliga.com. Buliga said Nathan even tries to take care of him after long runs, making sure he’s hydrated.
“He follows my schedule and makes sure I stay true to it, so there’s no slacking off,” Buliga said.
Nathan’s help has given Buliga confidence in his ability to finish the marathon. The boy has even developed several fundraising ideas to help Buliga reach his $5,000 team goal.
“Raising the money isn’t going to be a challenge. I’m confident I will reach and surpass my fundraising goal,” Buliga said.
So what is Buliga’s biggest challenge?
“Trying to fit in work, hospital visits, training, and family time,” Buliga said. That’s where his wife Jasmine has stepped in. Buliga said she’s a great planner and has been supportive of his endeavor. She understands he’s doing it all for Nathan.
“He’s the bravest kid I know and my hero,” Buliga said. “I am very much honored to be running for him. I hope I can make him as proud of me for finishing and raising the money as I am of him for fighting this awful disease.”
Learn more about Buliga at www.crowdrise.com/ChrisBuliga.
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