Boston's own 'Forest Gump' ran over 3,400 miles to raise money for cancer research in 1978

You likely remember the part of "Forest Gump" where the titular character ran across the United States just because he felt like it. It seems rather insane, like most of the things Tom Hanks' character was able to accomplish throughout that film.

But in reality, many people have actually accomplished the cross-country jog. One of the first to complete the feat was Boston's Dave McGillivray, who needed 80 days to run 3,452 miles from Oregon to Boston -- an average of 45 miles per day. On the final leg of his run in 1978, McGillivray ran through one of the garage doors in the outfield of Fenway Park and took a few laps around the stadium as the crowd roared.

Forty years later, McGillivray returned to Fenway Park to celebrate the anniversary of his accomplishment -- and for the same charitable purpose as the original run: To raise money for the Jimmy Fund, a foundation working to fight cancer.

On Thursday, prior to the Red Sox's afternoon series finale against the Cleveland Indians, the 64-year-old McGillivray returned to Fenway and reenacted the final leg of his legendary run by running a victory lap around the field and across home plate.

The celebratory pregame moment came on the heels of the Red Sox's annual Jimmy Fund Telethon, which helped raise more than $4.4 million for cancer research over the course of two days this week. 

McGillivray, who now serves as race director of the Boston Marathon, is believed to have performed one of the first cancer fundraising runs ever. He's still working to raise money for the cause, though he's now going a different route to do so. Next year, the Medford, Massachusetts, native plans to release a children's book, "The Home Run," about his famous cross-country journey and donate the proceeds to the Jimmy Fund.

Even forty years after his original run, McGillivray still calls his final leg at Fenway "the absolute highlight of my athletic career."

"Running into Fenway Park after running 3,452 miles (5,555 kilometers) across America for the Jimmy Fund remains the absolute highlight of my athletic career," he said. "It proved that anything is possible and gave me the confidence to continue to set goals in my life, not limits."