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.


Shavonne Malara is not only taking to the Boston Marathon course to fulfill a personal goal, but also to thank the clinicians who cared for her while far from family.   


What inspired you to join the Fighting Kids’ Cancer... One Step at a Time team?
I moved to Boston in October 2011.  In June 2012, I was treated in the MGH Emergency Department and was admitted for one night.  At the time, I didn’t know anyone in Boston as the city was still very new to me. My mom was going to fly down from Canada to be with me, but I reassured her I was in good hands and being treated at one of the best hospitals in the world.  She too felt better knowing I was at MGH as my dad at home was recovering from kidney cancer.  I chose to run for the Mass General for Children to give back for the excellent care I received in 2012 and the comfort my family had given thanks to MGH’s reputation. Running for MGfC has given me an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the children receiving treatment.

Is this your first marathon?
The 2017 Boston Marathon will be my third marathon.  I completed my first two marathons as part of the 2015 & 2016 runDisney Dopey Challenge, which consists of 48.6 miles over four days at Walt Disney World. 

What will you be thinking about on race day?
How fortunate I am to be running the Boston Marathon, especially as part of the Mass General Marathon Team.  I’m honored and very proud to be part of the team.  I will be thinking of those who are less fortunate and aren’t healthy enough to take the 26.2-mile journey.  Crossing the finish line will be an emotional experience for a few reasons: remembering back to what happened in April 2013, the lives lost and how that day changed the lives of many others. And, seeing my parents, who are traveling in from Canada, especially my dad who is a cancer survivor.  Finally, realizing that I have concluded the final leg of my 2017 Boston Marathon journey and raised money for such a wonderful cause, knowing I have made a difference in the lives of the children receiving care at MGH.

What are some lessons you’ve learned from training for the marathon?
The challenge it presents, whether it be the weather, recovering from an injury or demanding work schedule.  There are good training days/races and not so good, but when you take a step back to put things into perspective, you realize how fortunate you are to be in good health and be able to live & maintain an active lifestyle.  Some aren’t as fortunate.  All the children receiving care at MGH have been an inspiration to me during my training especially during the days when I feel challenged.  I’m running the 2017 Boston Marathon for each one of them. 


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.