For Mia O’Connell, her mother’s battles with cancer inspired her to run the Boston Marathon for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, she said.
“My mom is a two-time cancer survivor,” O’Connell, MCAS ’22, said. “She was treated at Dana-Farber for breast cancer and Hodgkin’s [lymphoma]. So I saw that they had a team … and I was like, ‘I feel like this is something I should do. I can’t not apply.’”
Deciding to run the marathon was a scary commitment, O’Connell said.
“I think Dana-Farber gave like 72 hours or something before you had to accept your spot, and so that was a crazy 72 hours because I hadn’t told anyone that I was applying,” she said.
For O’Connell, the fundraising process was terrifying at first, but she said she received a lot of support from her family and friends. Between support from her family and friends as well as from fundraising events in her hometown of Wilmington, Mass.,O’Connell said that she was able to raise just over $8,500.
“I can’t even express how happy I was when I ended up passing the goal and then people still kept donating,” O’Connell said. “It was just such a good feeling.”
Though she did not run with anyone specifically, O’Connell said everyone in the marathon was so friendly and she talked with many of the other runners during the race.
“It was very interesting, like how social of an experience it was,” she said.
While talking about Mile 21, an uncontrollable smile spread across O’Connell’s face. Seeing all of her friends, roommates, and even classmates she hardly knew cheering her on was “pure joy,” O’Connell said.
“There was no feeling after that, like running away from Mile 21 I was so happy that the last five miles felt like nothing,” O’Connell said. “Like I don’t remember them at all.”
When she reached the end of the course, O’Connell said she barely remembered crossing the finish line.
“It was … just surreal,” she said.