On April 17, 102 runners will participate in the 121st Boston Marathon on behalf of MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC). These individuals support cancer care and research initiatives that enhance the quality of life for the hospital’s youngest cancer patients. This year marks the 20th 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 $12 million.

Meg O’Donnell is thankful for her family’s health, but understands that not all are so fortunate. In running her first marathon, she wants to join a community that for decades has strived to create top notch health care services and has saved countless lives.

Q: What inspired you to join the Fighting Kids’ Cancer... One Step at a Time team?
Last year my best friend was a charity runner.  I saw her work so hard and it wasn’t until Marathon Monday that I truly realized how much she had accomplished on and off the race course.  I got inspired to help.  Since the moment I joined the marathon team, I’ve only had to look to MGH for inspiration. Of course, the kids are enough to keep me going all 26.2 miles, but it’s also the doctors, nurses, staff members and families who inspire me.  Running a marathon is hard, but I truly believe it’s nothing compared to the work done every day at Massachusetts General Hospital. 


 Q: Is this your first marathon?
A: Yes! I could not be more thrilled to have it be Boston!

Q: What will you be thinking about on race day?
A: Having fun! The months leading up to April 17 will be the hard part.  On Marathon Monday, I plan on taking it all in - the course, the crowds, and the kids waiting at Mile 20.  We will have worked so hard to get to that day that I am just going to run my heart out and finish strong. 

Q: What are some lessons you’ve learned from your patient and from training for the marathon?
A: You can do anything if other people believe in you and you believe in yourself.  My patient partner, Mira fights through anything and does it with a smile.  She also has an amazing community behind her, a community I’m now fortunate to be a part of.  Joining the team has been life changing already.  I’ve learned so much about reaching new heights with myself and with others and I’ve met some of the most-selfless people.  I’m just honored to run on Mira’s behalf. 


This story is part of a series that MGH will publish in advance of the 2017 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.