In honor of my dear friend Mark Vandette, I am participating in my first Boston Marathon® Jimmy Fund Walk.
Mark Vandette was born and raised in North Attleboro (’98) and graduated from WPI (’02). In 2007, Mark was diagnosed with Stage 3 Colon Cancer just weeks after finding out that he and his wife Melissa were expecting their first child. After 6 months of chemotherapy, and yearly scans, Mark was declared to be cancer free and was enjoying life with his wife and two children- Grace and Kallan.
In 2011, as Mark was preparing to run the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. in honor of Captain Kyle R. VanDeGiesen (Mark’s dear friend who lost his life in service to our country in Afghanistan), Mark was experiencing back pain. But he pressed on, finding the strength from within to overcome his pain and to honor his friend’s memory. What Mark didn’t yet know was that a cancerous tumor was pressing on his vertebrae so hard that it had fractured a disk – thus causing his back pain – so he essentially ran a 26.2-mile marathon with a broken back. In December 2011, Mark and Melissa learned that the cancer had returned in Mark’s peritoneum, liver and spine. Throughout his battle, Mark guided his family, friends, and community as a whole towards their faith, never complaining, and inspiring everyone who knew to him live each day kindly and courageously. Sadly, on July 25, 2012, Mark passed away from Stage four Colon Cancer.
This year, all of the funds raised by our team, Sullivan StrongER will be designated to Colon Cancer research. When you make a gift to my walk, you’re directly supporting Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s unique 50-50 balance between cutting-edge science and highly compassionate cancer care. Your support allows Dana-Farber leaders to enhance programs and initiatives that serve pediatric and adult patients and their families.
Thank you for supporting my tribute to Mark and my participation in the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk. Together, we can conquer cancer!