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UML students, alumni walk for a cure

Tyler Cote
Connector Contributor

Terrifying, chilling, scary, unknowing; those are just a few words to describe the feeling you get hearing the word “cancer.” However, support and love come to make a lasting difference and that is what was done in Boston on Sept. 21.

For all the bad that comes with cancer, the rally of individuals moving forward to a common goal is heartwarming. Last Sunday, 8,500 walkers participated in the 2014 Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk along the Boston Marathon route, in support of the Jimmy Fund and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. This year, the cause raised a record-breaking $7.5 million toward the search for a cure.

People from all over the country came together as one to walk in a fight against the dreadful disease. UMass Lowell’s own Andrew Jefferson, a senior enrolled in the five-year civil engineering program, was a participant in the walk for his younger cousin, Sicilia. She was just two years old when she was diagnosed with cancer, but is now in remission, standing strong at age eight. Jefferson, like many others, walked the full 26.2 miles spanning across Boston on the sunny Sunday.

“It opened up my eyes a little more to how much cancer affects people.” Jefferson noted. “It was just a thought, I knew it was a fact that people get cancer, but it really wasn’t something I took personally ‘til it happened to someone close to me.”

The operation was a very uplifting experience for all involved, putting aside the upsetting reason behind the event. Jefferson was a “pacesetter,” which is the title given to a participant who raises $1,500 or more. He achieved this status by raising over $2,000 dollars for the event through a yard sale, an annual fundraiser by his family.

However, Jefferson said he wishes that UMass Lowell could partake in the festivities and put together a team for the wonderful cause for years to come: “Maybe the school can start promoting the Jimmy Fund year-round and create a team and raise awareness for the coming years.”

Andy Thomas and David Mitchell, best friends and members of the class of ’85 at UML, are in the middle of their fight against cancer. Christine Rathje, a freshman math major, is an active participant for the team supporting Thomas and Mitchell in their battle.

“We are just being really supportive and they are two of the most positive people I know in my life,” Rathje said. “They will both beat it, no doubt in my mind.”

The Jimmy Fund walk is a way to reconnect and bring together a large community to fight a battle that everyone strives to win.

The annual walk was full of smiles and fists to the sky. It was a time to reflect, but walk forward to a bright and healthy future. The hope to bring a UMass Lowell Jimmy Fund team into fruition is high and it is hoped that members of the UMass Lowell community can come together and walk for those colleagues that have fought or are currently fighting their battle.

“The Jimmy Fund does not have a ‘people don’t want to talk about it’ attitude. It’s something that you get the elephant out of the room,” Jefferson said. “You talk about something that’s a serious issue. It’s something that goes along with cancer nowadays. It’s incredible and life changing.”

For questions or comments about this article, send an email to tyler_cote@student.uml.edu.

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