On April 17, 102 runners - including Michael Garry - 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.Michael Garry joined the Fighting Kids' Cancer... One Step at a Time team to run his first Boston Marathon this year in honor of family members who have been impacted by a cancer diagnosis.
What inspired you to join the Fighting Kids’ Cancer... One Step at a Time team?
I am a part of the Mass General marathon team in honor of my nephew Liam, who was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma in his lung at age 6 months in 2006. Now 10, Liam is a healthy, energetic boy who is thriving thanks in large part to the efforts of Massachusetts General Hospital. Someone has run in the Boston Marathon in Liam's honor since 2007. I am thrilled to run this year in support of MGH and Liam's fight against this horrible disease.
Is this your first marathon? What will you be thinking about on race day?
This is my second marathon, but this will be my first time running the Boston Marathon. I ran the Hartford Marathon in 2012 in honor of my mother who unexpectedly died early that year. The time training and being able to honor her memory by doing something I had never done before helped me in a small way deal with her loss.
What will you be thinking about on race day?
To be honest, my first thought will be survival. My training has not been what I had hoped; I’ve been dealing with IT band syndrome in my left knee. This has made training a battle; however it has helped me to keep in perspective the "real battle" those patients like Liam had to fight to survive. Liam was one of the lucky ones who won his fight.
I will also be thinking about my father in law, Tom Orsini. He lost his yearlong battle with lung cancer this past year in November, 2016. What will I be thinking as I run? No matter what happens, I will finish this race. Liam and my father in law did not quit in their struggle and neither will I!
What are some lessons you’ve learned from Liam and from training for the marathon?
There are 2 lessons that I will take from training for this marathon: First, it is possible to accomplish almost anything if you set your mind to it. As a teacher and coach, I often use the phrase "Hard work determines success.” Accomplishing our goals is not always easy; however, hard work gives us the best opportunity to reach them.
The second lesson that I have always known but this marathon has reinforced is how important the team is to success. I could not have trained for this marathon, raised money, and met my “real life” responsibilities alone. My family and friends who donated money, my sons who encouraged me, and my wife who took on extra responsibilities around the house while I was out running and who was a constant source of positive energy - I could not have done this alone. The slogan "TEAMWORK makes the DREAM WORK" is truly fitting for me.
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.