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UMass ALS Cellucci Fund team running Boston Marathon

By Megan Bard

UMass Medical School Communications

April 15, 2015
  Melissa Davis is running the 2015 Boston Marathon in support of the UMass ALS Cellucci Fund
  Melissa Davis is running the 2015 Boston Marathon in support of the UMass ALS Cellucci Fund. It's her third marathon, but her first Boston.

Six runners will take on the famous 26.1-mile Boston Marathon stretch from Hopkinton to Boston on April 20 to raise money for the UMass ALS Cellucci Fund.

The pack, which includes experienced and novice marathoners, might be tapering off their training runs as the Boston Marathon approaches, but when it comes to advocating for ALS patients and research, they have not been holding back.

For Melissa Davis, 40, of Reading, running was part of her personally prescribed therapy when struggling with postpartum depression after the birth of her twins four years ago.

“The one thing about postpartum depression is that it can be so overwhelming and all consuming,” Davis said. “Running put a lot of things in perspective for me . . . I may not be the fastest, but I can run. There are people with ALS who want to run and are unable to.”

The strong need to free herself from her depression, which was also treated with therapy and medication, began with walking the 1-mile block around her home, then in Wisconsin. The walk became a run as she set goals for herself and took control of those goals. Since she took those first steps, Davis has completed two marathons and dozens of other races . . . but not Boston.

Having grown up in Central Massachusetts, she knew of the historic marathon’s pull; she brought her two eldest children, then 5 and 6 years old to watch the runners in 2013. Instead of experiencing the excitement and thrill of supporting the runners, the girls were terrified as the crowd ran away from the finish line after two bombs exploded. Three people were killed and more than 260 injured. The Davis family was not injured.

“I decided I wanted to run it and show my girls that bad things happen and people persevere . . . I don’t want it to ruin their experience of Boston,” Davis said.

Although she’d said that she would not run another marathon, Davis decided that if it were for the “right charity” she would run Boston. Her sister’s connection to the Cellucci family as a fellow Hudson resident and Davis’s connection to the University of Massachusetts system (she graduated from Amherst in 1998) made the choice to join the UMass ALS Cellucci fund team an easy one to make.

For teammate Thin Hom, 30, an ICU nurse at UMass Memorial Medical Center, it was the experience of caring for an ALS patient that compelled her to join the UMass ALS team.

“I learned so much about the effects of this terrible disease—not only the physical and psychological effects on the patient, but the emotional toll the disease took on the many loved ones that came to visit my patient,” Hom recalled.

Four others—Megan Kallio, Tammie Meisner, Colin Pagnam and Kim Kendrick—round out the Cellucci Fund’s team.

The UMass ALS Cellucci Fund supports the ALS research breakthroughs happening at UMass Medical School and in the laboratory of Robert H. Brown, Jr., DPhil, MD, one of the world’s leading and most promising ALS researchers. To support the runners and to learn more about the ALS research underway at the UMass Medical School visit the UMass ALS Cellucci Fund website, which also includes links to the runners’ fundraising pages.

Related links:
UMass ALS Cellucci Fund
UMass ALS Cellucci Fund 2015 Boston Marathon Team