Marathon Monday was yesterday.
That's the Monday each May where more than 30,000 aspirants gather on Hopkinton's town common hoping to join the hundreds of thousands of runners through history who have earned the title of "Finisher" of the Boston Marathon, the world's greatest road race.
Yesterday my buddy Pat Purcell, of Westborough Fire Department and Worcester EMS, once again successfully navigated the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston.
I've run Boston with Pat five times, although I took this year off.
Before that, the last year I didn't run was 2005.
Pat finished that year, though.
After trekking from Hopkinton to Boston in a sun that beat down with an ungodly heat that turned the final 1/4-mile slog to the finish line into a concrete oven, Pat received his medal and continued running to Children's Hospital, where he visited me and my son Brendan in Brendan's room on the hospital's 9th floor.
Pat had run the marathon that day in honor of Brendan, and presented him with a Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge medal in his hospital bed.
Brendan was suffering from a malignant brain tumor known as medulloblastoma, and at the time was in the middle of a grueling run of chemotherapy treatments. In the preceding days he had done little more than lay in bed and struggle to breathe.
But when Pat arrived to visit, Brendan stirred and accepted the gift with the closest thing to excitement his broken and battered body could muster. If you didn't know Brendan, you wouldn't realize how much Pat's gift meant to him, but my wife and I did, and we've never forgotten.
I don't know how many years now in a row Pat Purcell has labored to complete the 26.2 mile Boston Marathon on behalf of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, or how much money he has raised ($50,000? $100,000?)
I DO know that because of the money raised each year by Pat and hundreds of people like him, the scientists and clinicians at Dana-Farber are making incredible gains in the fight against cancer.
And I know that those gains are the reason I was able to play catch with Brendan and his brother Kevan today, and why Brendan is a happy, healthy 8-year-old 3rd-grader.
I also know that there are still far too many kids who won't have success against cancer, and that the battle goes on.
So while I didn't raise money this year, I figured I'd take an opportunity to appeal to readers of this blog to perhaps consider a donation to Pat Purcell's Dana-Farber fundraising page.
Simply follow the link, and click on "Support A Runner" on the right hand side of the page. Enter "Pat Purcell" for the name, and it will bring you to his page.
I thank from the bottom of my heart anyone who is able to donate. The battle is a long way from over, but every dollar brings us a little closer to victory.