Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Through Grandma's Guidance, Marathon Runner Aims to Help Kids

On April 16, 2018, 102 runners will participate in the 122nd Boston Marathon on behalf of MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC). These individuals support clinical and lab research, Brain Tumor and Long-term survivor programs, child life programs and mental health services that enhance the quality of life for the hospital’s youngest cancer patients. This year marks the 21st anniversary of John Hancock’s partnership with the Mass General Marathon Program, providing Mass General with 100 bib numbers for the race, allowing the hospital to raise more than $13 million.

Sarah White's grandmother was treated for leukemia at the Mass General Cancer Center. Battling through her own diagnosis, she always focused on others, saying, “It stinks I have cancer but could you imagine a little kid with it?” Now, Sarah is focused on improving the quality of life for pediatric patients undergoing treatment. 

What inspired you to join the Fighting Kids’ Cancer... One Step at a Time team?
My grandmother was treated for leukemia at the Mass General Cancer Center. The nurses and doctors became part of our family. My grandma always said, “It stinks I have cancer but could you imagine a little kid with it?” 

I saw the opportunity to join the ‘Fighting Kids’ Cancer…One Step at a Time’ marathon team and help children. I knew I would make her proud. Every year, I donate my hair to children with leukemia and this is just another step to helping them. Hopefully we can raise money to find a cure or improve their daily experiences.

Sarah White at MGHfC's own marathon start line


Is this your first marathon?
This is my first marathon. I have run a few half marathons and I completed a half Ironman in August 2017. The Boston Marathon is another challenge I am excited accomplish! Marathon Monday is my favorite day. It’s amazing to watch the challenges each athlete faces. It’s the greatest day of the year to be a Bostonian! I am very proud to be from here.

What will you be thinking about on race day?
On race day, I will be thinking about my grandma and her nurses and doctors. I will also be thinking of all the kids I have helped by raising the money. My patient partner, Asher, will be front of mind. I am sure I will also be thinking who moved the finish line!

What are some lessons you’ve learned from your family or patient partner affected by cancer and from training for the marathon?
I was always amazed my grandma’s positivity. Any hurdle cancer handed her, she took it like a champ. She became great friends with everyone in the Lunder Building. She called it her “chemo party” when she went in for treatment.  She unfortunately passed away 2 years ago, but I am so proud of her for putting up the fight she did and having fun doing it. 

I have woken up many cold mornings and complained about my runs but then I think this is nothing compared to the battle the kids at MGH are facing every day! It puts a little pep in my step!


This story is part of a series that MGH will publish in advance of the 2018 marathon featuring the Pediatric Oncology and Emergency Response Teams. In addition, individuals will run for the Miles for Mass General Program, which raises funds for hospital programs that are close to their hearts – including Botswana Oncology Global Outreach, Caring for a Cure, Cystic Fibrosis, Down Syndrome and the Lurie Center for Autism.

Back to Top