Daniel Gratzer is no stranger to the Boston Marathon. This will be his third year running for the Mass General Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Team. This marathon, however, will be extra special for him. He’ll also be running in memory of his mother, Joanne M. Gratzer, who died from cancer in August 2018.

“This year, before my mother passed, I made one final promise to her that I would make her proud and run one last Boston Marathon in her memory,” Gratzer says. “As I told her this, she gave me the biggest smile ever and I knew then I had to do this for her.”

For nearly 20 years, members of the Mass General Cystic Fibrosis Marathon Team have been running the Boston Marathon to fight CF and support the MGH Cystic Fibrosis Center. Last year, the team had a record-breaking year, raising more than $190,000 to benefit the CF program. Supporting this program is near and dear to Gratzer’s heart, as his uncle died from CF and he has other family members that are carriers of the genetic disorder.

“Even though this race and cause are truly amazing to be a part of, it’s going to be a hard day for me,” says Gratzer. “I’m hoping with the crowd supporting me, and with my mom’s spirits, I will thrive on that energy to make her proud as she has cheered me on the previous two years I ran with this team in 2016 and 2017.”

In addition to the Pediatric Hematology & Oncology, Emergency Response and Home Base teams – sponsored by John Hancock – runners also will support the Run for MGH team, which raises funds for hospital programs close to their hearts, including Caring for a Cure, cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, the Lurie Center for Autism, and the Mootha Lab. 

Marathon Motivation

“As I prepare for my first Boston Marathon run in support of Home Base, I think of the sacrifices made by our service members and their families, and how thankful I am for programs like Home Base to provide support and treatment to those who have given so much of themselves in service to our country. On race day, I know I will also think of these things and of all the people who made donations in support of helping me fulfill my dream of running Boston for Home Base.”

 - Shira Brown, Home Base Team, second marathon

 “I am a former part-time police officer in New Hampshire and appreciate immensely the importance of emergency response readiness. As a military veteran and former first responder, I wanted to give back to those that provide care during these tragic situations in the future. I have learned that you need to be ready for anything and be prepared. Never leave your house without telling those that matter how much you love them. And no matter what, complete the mission.”

- James Scully, Emergency Response Team, fourth marathon

“In 2001, I lost my dad to cancer. Seventeen years later, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy. During both of these life events, I spent time at MGH. Although both these experiences were very different, we were provided with the best care possible. For this, I am eternally grateful.”

- Amy Bell, pediatric Hematology & Oncology Team, fourth marathon

 “I am running on behalf of my father, Curtis Audin, an MGH Emergency Department nurse for nearly 17 years who retired in August. He was a role model for me and taught me important principles like discipline and dependability, to respect my colleagues and to speak up for myself. He truly cared for his patients, and volunteered to provide emergency relief in New Orleans and Haiti after natural disasters. I am grateful for the opportunity to run the Boston Marathon as a member of the Emergency Response Team, to show my appreciation not only for him, but for all of the emergency responders out there – including my wife – who have dedicated their lives to helping others when tragedy strikes.”

- Craig Audin, Emergency Response Team, first marathon

Read more articles from the 03/22/19 Hotline issue.