Shelby resident to run Boston Marathon to raise funds for cancer institute

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published March 4, 2019

 Nancy Smith stands at the finish line of the 2018 Boston Marathon. This year’s marathon will be her 19th year running it and her fifth year running it to help raise $6 million for cancer research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Nancy Smith stands at the finish line of the 2018 Boston Marathon. This year’s marathon will be her 19th year running it and her fifth year running it to help raise $6 million for cancer research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Photo provided by Nancy Smith

 Nancy Smith shows her jacket with a picture of her late patient partner, Brooke Mulford, who was diagnosed at age 4 with neuroblastoma cancer and was Smith’s partner during Smith’s first year on the  Dana-Farber team.

Nancy Smith shows her jacket with a picture of her late patient partner, Brooke Mulford, who was diagnosed at age 4 with neuroblastoma cancer and was Smith’s partner during Smith’s first year on the Dana-Farber team.

Photo provided by Nancy Smith

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — A Shelby Township resident has committed to running the Boston Marathon this year to raise funds for cancer research.

Nancy Smith plans to run as a member of the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team in the 123rd Boston Marathon April 15.

Along with more than 500 Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge teammates from across the United States and around the world, Smith will run Massachusetts’ historic 26.2-mile route from Hopkinton to Boston to help raise $6 million for cancer research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

This year will mark the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team’s 30th annual running in the Boston Marathon. One hundred percent of the money raised by the DFMC team goes to Dana-Farber’s Claudia Adams Barr Program in Innovative Basic Cancer Research that supports science research in its earliest stages.

The Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge has raised nearly $93 million to date.

“Dana-Farber is inspiring because I can see firsthand how funds raised from our running programs directly impacts patient care and cancer research, working towards a world without cancer. Dana-Farber has a lifesaving mission to provide expert, compassionate care to children and adults with cancer while advancing the understanding, diagnosis, treatment and cures for cancer,” said Jan Ross, the assistant vice president for the division of philanthropy, running programs, at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund.

“Each year, approximately 50 current and former pediatric cancer patients of Dana-Farber’s Jimmy Fund Clinic are paired with DFMC runners as ‘Patient Partners.’ For the young patients, their partnerships with the runners provide a unique and friendly focus outside their illnesses. Another two dozen Partner Program families are paired with runners through the ‘In-Memory Program’ in remembrance of their children’s brave struggle with the disease,” she said.

Smith said she has participated in the marathon for many years and has run for Dana-Farber for a few years now.

“This will be my 19th consecutive Boston Marathon and my fifth year running on Dana Farber Cancer Research,” said Smith.

She said she was privileged to be partnered her first year with Brooke Mulford a young girl who had cancer.

“Diagnosed at age 4 with neuroblastoma cancer, Brooke courageously battled for eight years. She never gave up. ... She truly showed the world the face of (bravery) and had a smile that lit up the world,” said Smith.

Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge runners include cancer survivors and patients, and family and friends of those who have been affected by cancer.

“This year, I run in honor and memory of Brooke and my mother, who passed away in May from liver cancer,” said Smith.

Smith said that when she first ran to qualify for the marathon, she didn’t expect to still be running it 19 years later.

“I believe it’s every runner’s dream to qualify for Boston. I never imagined that when I qualified and ran it in 2000 ... it would be the beginning of 18 more memorable Boston Marathons,” she said.

She especially remembers her first Boston Marathon; a time  when it was really hot; the years there was bad weather; and the year the course was shut down in 2013 due to a terrorist bombing.

“In 2013, I ran on Team Dana-Farber to raise funds for innovative cancer research. It was, and continues to be, so fulfilling to me. I can’t imagine running Boston without a greater cause,” said Smith.

She said that even though she comes from Shelby Township, she feels close to her teammates who run with her in the marathon.

“Although I’m out of state and most of my teammates are from the Boston area, we’re connected by our common cause. Every year, I grow closer and closer to my teammates who are the most dedicated and giving individuals,” she said.

Smith said that participating in the marathon this year will be a little different for her.

“My training this year has been less than stellar. I needed to have shoulder surgery on Jan. 16 (torn rotator cuff, torn bicep and bone spur). Per surgeon’s orders, I’m only permitted to walk and spin. But, I will finish my 19th Boston Marathon even if it requires me to walk the distance of 26.2 miles,” Smith said.

She said she has run more than 35 marathons, and numerous 5Ks, 10Ks and half-marathons.

“The more mature, seasoned, aged I become, the more I realize that it’s about balance and gratefulness. I enjoy cross-training more — road/trail bike riding, running, weight training. I’m grateful for my health and ability to be active,” said Smith.

Each team member must fulfill a basic fundraising commitment.

Smith’s fundraising link, of which 100 percent is donated to cancer research, is danafarber.jimmyfund.org/goto/nancysmith.

To contribute to the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge, visit RunDFMC.org.

For more information about the Boston Marathon, visit www.baa.org.