As a 10-year participant in the Run to Home Base, Marine Corps veteran Michael York is no stranger to putting in the miles to support veterans, service members and their families. This year, York is taking on a new challenge through his participation in the 124th Boston Marathon.

“I first learned about Home Base in 2009 – shortly after I left the Marine Corps,” says York. “After having such incredible experiences participating in the Run to Home Base each summer for the last decade, I couldn’t pass up the chance to run the Boston Marathon for a cause I am so passionate about.”

The East Bridgewater, Massachusetts native will run his first marathon as part of MGH’s Home Base Boston Marathon team. In addition to traditional running, there is an element to York’s training regimen that is somewhat unconventional: he has set out to summit all 4,000-foot peaks in the White Mountains of New England this winter. Climbing all of the 48 peaks is a major goal for many avid hikers, but completing them all in the winter is even more challenging.

For York, mountains are a place of healing and serenity, but they are also a source of physical and mental challenge akin to what he experienced while in the service – and what he will experience during the Boston Marathon this April.

“We are grateful to have a team of dedicated Boston Marathon runners this year who are committed to our mission and dedicated to giving back to those who have served our country,” said retired Brig. Gen. Jack Hammond, executive director of Home Base.

York has so far completed six winter hikes. Though he was initially accompanied by his father – a U.S. Army veteran – on his hikes, York now invites fellow veterans to join him on the trail. He has inspired others to take on the #Veteransonthe48 challenge and, like York, they all share a fierce determination to raise awareness of, and end, veteran suicides.

 “As a veteran, I am deeply appreciative of the work Home Base is doing for the military community,” said York. “I’m proud to support that work by raising awareness through hiking in the White Mountains and running the 2020 Boston Marathon. When people come together from all over the country to achieve the same goal, it’s a powerful thing. It doesn’t take much to show a veteran you care – sometimes all you need to do is something small and it will make ripples that last a lifetime.”

Marathon motivation

“During my first Boston Marathon in 2013, I was stopped by police a half mile from the finish. I had to return the following year to finish what I started. What I thought was a bucket list item has become a huge part of my life. Having a patient partner in 2016 solidified my passion tenfold – my relationship made it personal and gave more meaning to my fundraising efforts. I run in his memory and in support of my new partner Teddie. Go MGH!” --Jessica Spence, RN, pediatric hematology and oncology team, Seventh marathon

“In 2018, I met a patient being treated at MGHfC for leukemia. I was paired with Emilia as part of the patient partner program. She was full of courage and joy for life despite her illness. Her family was so amazing and supportive despite all their challenges. Emilia and her family have become part of my own. I’m excited to run the Boston Marathon for her this year.” --Deb Jacobson, administrative director of the MGH Revere HealthCare Center, 12th marathon

“I run to support the kids who face cancer head-on every day. Sometimes getting through the uphill battle is about putting one foot in front of the other, much like running a marathon. When I face challenges of my own, I regain my strength and determination by thinking of the kids and families who are navigating a tough cancer diagnosis. I want to let them know they aren’t alone. Come rain or shine, I will finish the Boston Marathon strong for each one of these kids and for my patient partner Isaac.” --Paul Myoung, senior administrative director of the MGH Transplant Center, fifth marathon