Day of celebration capped by Boston Marathon race director and renowned endurance athlete finishing at home base at Fenway hand-in-hand with two Jimmy Fund heroes
A day of celebration marking the 40th anniversary of Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray’s historic solo 3,452-mile run across the U.S. included the unveiling of a commemorative stone plaque outside Medford City Hall and the re-creation of his Fenway Park finish, again to a standing ovation from Red Sox fans.
And just as in 1978, the Aug. 23 celebration focused on funding for cancer research. McGillivray completed his run from Medford, Oregon to Medford, Mass. to raise money for the Jimmy Fund of Boston, the fundraising arm of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. On Thursday, he ended the celebration inside Fenway Park by finishing at home base hand-in-hand with two young Jimmy Fund heroes, Felix and Taylor.
Medford-native McGillivray, who raised nearly $100,000 in 1978, has set a goal to raise another $100,000 for the Jimmy Fund by Sept. 23, which marks the 30th anniversary of the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk that he helped create. He has raised close to $40,000 so far. To visit his fundraising page, click here.
The day of celebration began with a ceremony at Medford City Hall that included proclamations from Medford Mayor Stephanie Burke, who hosted the event, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, and Medford, Oregon Mayor Gary Wheeler. Burke then dedicated and unveiled an engraved stone plaque near the front steps of Medford City Hall to honor McGillivray.
The inscription reads: “Celebrating Dave McGillivray’s 3,452-mile run in 1978 from Medford, Oregon to Medford, Massachusetts to benefit the Jimmy Fund. Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it – Dave McGillivray”
As in 1978, legendary runner and four-time Boston Marathon champion Bill Rodgers met McGillivray on the stairs at City Hall and then joined him for the seven-mile run to Fenway Park for the second leg of the celebration.
McGillivray’s 12-year-old son Luke and running friend Josh Nemzer also accompanied them on the run to Fenway, escorted by a host of Medford Police and Mass. State Police motorcycles.
McGillivray also was joined on part of the run by Lauren Feltch, the community relations liaison for Mayor Burke, who told him that his commencement speech at her Merrimack College graduation had motivated her to take up running and eventually run the Boston Marathon.
Inside Fenway Park prior to the Red Sox-Indians afternoon game, McGillivray circled the warning track and in front of the Green Monster as images from his 1978 run flashed on the video screen above. He met the Jimmy Fund kids at third base and then ran to home, where he was greeted by former Red Sox great Dwight Evans, a member of the 1978 team, and team owner Larry Lucchino
McGillivray was joined on the field by two of his 1978 cross-country support crew, Jeff Donohoe and Tom Kinder, as well as family and friends, including his wife Katie, children Ryan, Elle, Luke and Chloe, brothers Bob and Alan, and friends Ron and Fran Kramer.
Forty years ago, McGillivray, 64, now a renowned race director, motivational speaker, philanthropist and endurance athlete, was a 23-year-old recent Merrimack College graduate from Medford determined to achieve his dream of running across the country to raise money for charity. He set out on his Run Across America on June 11, 1978 in Oregon, crossing the Nevada desert, Rocky Mountains and passing cornfields of the Midwest before completing the improbable trek 80 days later, on Aug. 29, in his hometown. Later that night, he made a triumphant run into Fenway Park to a standing ovation from 32,000 fans, running several laps.
McGillivray and later his event management company, DMSE Sports, became pioneers in what is now one of the most important aspects of the endurance sports industry – combining athletics with philanthropy. Runner’s World said his 1978 achievement was one of first times someone combined running with fundraising for cancer research. He and the races he has managed through DMSE Sports have raised millions for charity over the years.
McGillivray’s feats of endurance are legendary – and all for good causes. A partial list of his Jimmy Fund-related accomplishments in the years since includes: Run up East Coast, 1980 (1,520 miles); New England Triathlon, 1981 (1,522 miles); Martha’s Vineyard swim, 1982 (7 miles); 24-hour swim, 1983 (26.2 miles); and a 24-hour bike ride, 1986 (385 miles).
Additionally, he has completed nine Hawaii Ironman Triathlons and 155 marathons in all, including the World Marathon Challenge earlier this year – seven marathons in seven days on seven continents.
McGillivray also has run 46 straight Boston Marathons, including the last 31 at night after completing his duties directing the world-famous race. He recently completed his annual birthday run – running his age in miles – and now has done so every year since age 12.
McGillivray, who lives in North Andover, Mass., is also known as an inspirational speaker who gives talks to schoolchildren and a variety of groups throughout the country. He just published a children’s picture book called “Dream Big”, about his first attempt at running the Boston Marathon and based on his 2006 autobiography, “The Last Pick”, which intimately recounts the mental and physical obstacles McGillivray faced that led to his 1978 cross country run. His story has inspired countless people to reach their own goals. And in 2019, McGillivray will launch his second children’s illustrative book titled “The Home Run”, which chronicles his 1978 run. Proceeds from the new book will benefit the Jimmy Fund.
McGillivray also has a story to tell about his health. He was diagnosed with coronary heart disease in the fall of 2013 and went public with his disease to urge others like him to get checkups and help them understand that “being fit doesn’t mean being healthy.” That health scare prompted McGillivray to change his diet, eliminate stress and rededicate himself to fitness. He lost about 25 pounds and lowered his cholesterol level by more than 100 points, reversing his coronary disease by almost 50 percent.
About the Jimmy Fund
The Jimmy Fund solely supports Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, raising funds for adult and pediatric cancer care and research to improve the chances of survival for cancer patients around the world. Since its founding in 1948, the Jimmy Fund has raised millions of dollars through thousands of community fundraising events. Find more information at www.jimmyfund.org.
About Dave McGillivray Sports Enterprises
DMSE Sports is a full-service event-management organization, providing a full range of event and race production, management, and consulting services to support events of all sizes. Dave McGillivray and his team at DMSE Sports are responsible for the technical and logistical aspects of more than 30 races and walks per year. From overseeing organizing committees to working with local officials and handling registration, credentialing, lead vehicles, and course set up, DMSE Sports does it all. The firm has produced more than 1,000 events since opening its doors in 1981 and serves clients throughout the United States. Find more information at www.dmsesports.com.