2013 Boston Marathon Champion Fund Team

Russell Becker

In high school, I weighed over 300 pounds, had a poor academic record and little motivation to change. I had also witnessed the deaths of my 66-year-old grandfather, Christopher Kennedy, and my 31-year-old uncle, Jimmy Kennedy, from ALS, learning firsthand of the devastating progression and toll of this disease. Seeing the positive steps my uncle, Richard Kennedy, took to channel his grief and empower others by joining forces with Angel Fund inspired me to make some positive changes as well. I lost 120 pounds and had a dream come true last April when I crossed the Boston Marathon finish line in 90-degree heat! This year, I will train harder, beat my previous finishing time and raise money for the Champion Fund in the hopes of seeing an end to this horrific disease. Please help and show your support with a donation, your time or just good thoughts as I take on this challenge to help find a cure for ALS.



Brendan Byrne 

I’m running this year’s Boston Marathon for the UMass ALS Champion Fund in honor of my friend Pete Frates. Pete is a 28-year-old former Boston College baseball captain who was diagnosed with ALS in the past year. Pete has attacked his diagnosis with great bravery and unrelenting positivity, making it his mission to raise awareness about ALS and to ensure there is progress made toward finding a cure. Pete’s positive attitude, drive and courage have inspired me to help him with the fight to “strike out ALS.” You can find out more about Pete online at http://petefrates.com. Please help find a cure for ALS by donating to Dr. Brown and his team at UMass Medical School.




Charlie Desourdy

This will be my second Boston Marathon for the UMass ALS Champion Fund. I am a longtime runner and an even longer-time employee of UMass Medical School. I think Dr. Brown and his team are making great progress in the battle against ALS and every bit of fundraising helps. To help UMMS and our ALS researchers get the most out of this partnership with the Boston Marathon, I expect to run and raise money each year this opportunity exists.





Lauren Grenier

As someone who had always defined herself as an athlete, once graduation came, that identity slowly disappeared. A decade and two kids later, exercise remains a part of my life, but an “athlete” certainly wasn’t who I was anymore. Training for the Boston Marathon, I feel like I can call myself that again. Once I had committed to the training, I knew immediately that I wanted to run for Governor Cellucci and the UMass ALS Champion Fund. While Gov. Cellucci was on Beacon Hill, I had the opportunity to be a part of his campaign office. I quickly learned that he was a man who was highly respected and genuinely liked by staffers, colleagues and his constituents. I am honored to help him raise funds in a different capacity and for a cause that is so personal to him.




Susan Marshall

Twenty years ago, I lost my father, Vance Norton Jr., to complications due to ALS. To honor his memory, I am running the 2013 Boston Marathon to raise money for the UMass ALS Champion Fund. I watched him desperately try to maintain control of his legs by using a walker, only to see him have no choice but to move to a wheelchair and, eventually to a nursing home. While my father’s mind could not tell his muscles to move, he never lost his ability to think and observe everything going on around him. Twenty years later, there is still no cure for this terrible disease. I am raising money to help find a cure, to prevent this kind of pain and suffering for those who have the disease as well as for their loved ones. I ran my first marathon last November; to be able to run in this marathon instead of simply watching it is a huge honor.




John Megan

I run because I can. I never take that for granted. I run because it makes me feel healthy; sometimes I run for the challenge of it (such as tackling a marathon). Such challenge however is NOTHING like battling a terrible disease like ALS. I’m running the year’s Boston Marathon for the UMass ALS Champion Fund in honor of my step father, Jack Brandley, who continues to battle ALS, and for others who have suffered through this terrible disease. ALS has impacted Jack’s life in many ways, but it certainly has not broken his eternal optimism, his huge heart and his desire to see a world without ALS. He battles each day, relentlessly going through rehab and praying that someday a cure will be found. Please consider joining Jack and me in the fight against ALS by supporting of the UMass ALS Champion Fund.




Joseph Strauss

I was born in New York City, where I currently live with my wife Meredith and 3-year-old daughter, Felicity, and grew up in Merrick, Long Island. In May 1999, my mother, Jean, passed away from ALS at the age of 63. After her death, I took up running and, in 2000 and 2002, I ran the New York City Marathon, raising thousands of dollars for ALS research. I have been training hard and I am honored to have the opportunity to run the Boston Marathon as part of the UMass ALS Champion Fund Team.




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