Charlotte Kelly's parents Greg and Patrice, in the months since their daughter passed from Stage IV neuroblastoma in December, have stayed in touch with families they met during her treatment and have kept pushing for more research funding and support for others financially squeezed by the childhood cancer.
For Greg, in addition to helping organize the later this month, this also means long runs and a lot of sore muscles.
On April 16, he will be running the 116th Boston Marathon with his friend Glen Jusczyk, a North Attleboro native and current Cape Cod resident whose 3-year-old daughter Malia was diagnosed with the same cancer as Charlotte when she was two and a half years old.
The two men and their families met while their children were undergoing treatment at the Jimmy Fund Clinic and Children's Hospital and both will be running for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
“They’ve been wonderful to us," Greg Kelly said in a recent interview. "They did everything they could for my daughter.”
Greg and Patrice grew up in Milton and moved to Braintree eight years ago. They have since learned how supportive the community can be, Greg said. More than 2,000 runners turned out for the Prayers for Charlotte race last year and countless other individuals and organizations have helped out along the way.
The family continues to help spread awareness of neuroblastoma and raise money to help what Greg calls a "poorly-funded" disease and to give back to affected families who need assistance.
"We have such an incredible support system," Greg said. "We felt we owed it to the neuroblastoma families."
Last spring, Prayers for Charlotte – a 100 percent volunteer organization – sent $60,000 it raised in its inaugural race to the Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, MI, where a leading pediatric oncologist performs neuroblastoma research.
All proceeds from the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge benefit the Claudia Adams Barr Program in Innovative Basic Cancer Research at Dana-Farber, which funds basic research in its earliest stages, providing scientists with critical resources to test their innovative ideas, according to a release from the institute.
Since its inception in 1990, the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge has raised more than $52 million for the Barr Program. Dana-Farber Trustees Delores Barr and Wayne Weaver founded the Barr Program in 1987 to honor Mrs. Weaver’s mother, Claudia Adams Barr, who lost her battle with cancer in 1957.
To support Greg Kelly's run with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's Marathon Challenge team, go to http://www.runDFMC.org/2012/gregk.
To sign up for Run for Charlotte (April 22, 2012, 10 a.m. at the ), go to http://www.prayersforcharlotte.org.