Have you ever asked someone “are you in?” when planning a trip or activity? It’s quite likely that you may be nodding your head as you read this and saying “yes!” These three words are found in all types of conversations but never more profoundly when one is in need of a true friend’s support and encouragement when adversity strikes. Unfortunately, it is not always guaranteed that you hear “I’m in!” in return. For one man living with CML, not only did he find a friend who was “in” and ready to go the second mile, that friend has gone the third, fourth, and hundreds more, never regretting the first step.
When Brad Standley, a successful businessman from the Boston area, was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia, family and friends stepped forward to help in every way imaginable. One friend in particular helped him by coming alongside to provide transportation, support at work, and more. That friend has gone on to not only help Brad, but to help raise awareness for the needs of the CML community. That friend is Dave Fortier.
The Standley Family
In the fall of 2012, Dave (pictured at the top) reached out to the NCMLS with a desire to do something more to honor his friend. While discussing ideas on ways he could do so, Dave shared how Brad, an active hiker and skier, had suggested that he replace his TV time on the couch with running. Dave found himself asking “me?…..run?” Brad answered something to the effect of ‘you gotta start somewhere.” Dave, having never run before, pondered what that might be like in his life and one day got up from the couch and took a run through the neighborhood. That first run has become a regular pastime in which he finds great enjoyment. As our conversation continued, Dave mentioned his interest in running with a team from the NCMLS. Sheepishly I replied “we don’t have one….BUT, we would love for you to run for the organization!” With a few phone calls and emails, a slot was found on a team and Dave set out to train for his first full marathon. Through this event he would honor his friend Brad, bring greater awareness for CML and the NCMLS, and help support the work done at Dana Farber Cancer Center.This first event was the Boston Marathon last April.
Monday, April 15, 2013 dawned overcast with the promise of afternoon sun and temps in the upper 40s/low 50s – the makings of a great day, especially since the prior year temps were in the 90s at starting time. Dave, along with 26,838 others began what would become a marathon they’d never forget. Dave says, thinking back on the day, that the marathon was “one of the best days of my life for 26.19 miles.” The next .11 mile became a nightmare that will be etched into our memory and history books forever. As Dave approached the finish line, he found himself immediately adjacent the first explosion and suffered shrapnel injuries. Fortunately, his shrapnel injuries have now healed. He lost some hearing and still carries a constant reminder in the form of an ever present high pitched ringing – an issue with his hearing that he hopes will be resolved one day. This was certainly not what he expected as he approached the finish line.
In August of 2013, I reached out to Dave on behalf of the NCMLS and asked if he was still interested in helping establish and grow a running team and if he was up for a run. I vividly remember Dave saying “so you have a 5K you’d like NCMLS to do?” to which I replied, “No.” I could tell that my “no” answer had him a bit puzzled. After a brief silence he asks “ok, perhaps a half-marathon?” Once again, “no” was my reply. It was then that I shared exactly what I had in mind and waited for him to either get up off the floor, hang up the phone, or respond. After a slight pause he said “Sure, let’s do this!” That was the day that Team 922 became official and slated to run the New York City Marathon. While I had had absolutely NO experience in developing a running team (Heck, I’ve yet to experience a 5k run…but that will soon be changing – a story for another day), Dave had been quietly observing all the ins and outs. We reached out to a couple of individuals who had previously expressed an interest in running for NCMLS and set about trying to develop a team for this first foray into marathons. A few days later, five amazing individuals had committed to run, all of whom had very close relationships with CML – two were CML patients, one was a friend, one a spouse, and another a sibling. Together, the team went on to finish the marathon and raise funds that went directly to provide services to CML patients in need.
Team 922 with their 2013 NYC Marathon Medals
Pictured, L – R, Cody Anderson, Dave Fortier, Michelle Nicoles, and Robin Barnes. (Not pictured, Paul Zimny)
Very soon, we will be announcing a series of informational conference calls that will outline the details, share requirements for acquiring a slot, and ways the entire community can go about making this year’s run a huge success. In the meantime, we want to hear from those of you who are interested in participating. If you’re interested in running as a member of Team 922, fundraising alongside the team, providing local and/or race day support visit the Team 922 website for more information or email us to express your interest. We will add you to our email distribution and keep you informed of upcoming conference calls and more. Use Facebook? You can find Team 922 at Facebook.com/team922
This year is already beginning to look like a banner year and we’ve already had commitments from two giants in the field of CML treatment. We hope you will join us!
Are you in? (RUN?)