UMMS sending eight runners to 2013 Boston Marathon

Athletes will raise money for UMass ALS Champion Fund

By Lisa M. Larson

UMass Medical School Communications

October 13, 2012
Photo by Jim Rhoades from
Runners in the 2012 Boston Marathon. UMMS will have eight official race numbers for runners willing to raise at least $6,000 each for the UMass ALS Champion Fund.

UMass Medical School is recruiting eight passionate runners with the legs to carry them to the finish line of the Boston Marathon and the heart to raise at least $6,000 each for the UMass ALS Champion Fund.

John Hancock, principal sponsor of the Boston Marathon, recently accepted the UMass ALS Champion Fund into its nonprofit bib program for the second year in a row, allowing UMMS to bestow official race numbers to marathoners who commit to fundraising.

“Last year’s effort was a great success,” said Chancellor Michael F. Collins. “Because of their dedication and commitment, the 2012 UMass ALS Champion Fund Boston Marathon team raised more than $80,000 for the groundbreaking amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research being conducted at UMMS. We are thrilled to have another opportunity to raise awareness—and vital funding—through this nationally recognized event.”

The UMass ALS Champion Fund, launched with the assistance of former Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci, who is living with the disease, provides funding for ALS research at UMMS.

Robert H. Brown Jr., DPhil, MD, the Leo P. and Theresa M. LaChance Chair in Medical Research and chair and professor of neurology, leads the school’s cutting-edge research program, geared toward developing better treatments and eventually a cure for ALS. Cellucci is being treated by Dr. Brown at UMass Memorial Medical Center, the clinical partner of UMMS.

“I am honored that John Hancock has chosen the UMass ALS Champion Fund to participate again in the Boston Marathon nonprofit program,” Cellucci said. “It means so much to me and my family to see the groundswell of support for Dr. Brown’s research at UMass Medical School. Our champions are the people who are willing to step up and support Dr. Brown and his lab to find a cure.”

Brown is widely recognized as a pioneer in neurodegenerative disease research. For 30 years, he has dedicated himself to understanding the complexities of ALS, a fatal degenerative disorder that causes progressive muscle weakness, leading to paralysis and eventually death, within five years of diagnosis. There is no treatment that does anything but even slightly slow the progression. Brown has been a leading visionary for ALS treatment and part of nearly every fundamental ALS breakthrough to date, including the identification of mutations in a gene that is responsible for 20 to 25 percent of the familial form of the disease.

John Hancock’s Boston Marathon Non-Profit Program awards hundreds of guaranteed entries to select nonprofits every year. In 2011, more than $5.3 million was raised through the program, up from $4.3 million in 2010.

Interested runners should visit for an application. For answers to any questions, contact Katie Friend, community outreach coordinator in the UMass Medicine Development Office at The deadline to apply is Nov. 6.

Learn more about the Champion Fund at, and Follow @UMassALS on Twitter.

Related links on UMassMedNow:

Cellucci thanks Boston Marathon runners

UMass/ALS Champion Fund

Wanted: Boston Marathon runners to support ALS research

Gov. Cellucci talks about raising money for ALS research

Donation gives greater visibility to UMass/ALS Champion Fund

Cellucci takes ALS fight to center field at Fenway

A pitch to raise millions for ALS research















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