Dave McGillivray has accomplished a great deal as a runner and race organizer. The director of both the New Balance Falmouth Road Race and the Boston Marathon, Mr. McGillivray continues to challenge himself in a variety of directions, including a recent foray into children’s picture book writing in a sincere effort to tell a story which is part of his own personal narrative and one that he hopes will inspire others to reach their own personal goals.
“Dream Big: A True Story of Courage and Determination” tells the story of Mr. McGillivray’s experiences as an emergent runner and how he came to embrace running when he was in grade school because his short stature left him on the sidelines for most team sports. From there he set out to run the Boston Marathon but found the 26.2-mile race out of his grasp, that is until some special encouragement from his beloved grandfather gave him just enough of a push to propel him across the finish line.
Lively watercolor illustrations are by Ron Himler. The book was published by Nomad Press.
“I’ve been telling the story for 40 years but never until now in a children’s picture book,” said Mr. McGillivray, who said he told the story at Abbot Elementary School in Westford where Nancy Feehrer, one of the teachers at the school, heard it. Ms. Feehrer sent an e-mail to Mr. McGillivray asking if he’d ever wanted to write a children’s book. Mr. McGillivray said yes and Ms. Feehrer offered to co-author the book. “Thus ‘Dream Big’ was born,” Mr. McGillivray said.
The story in “Dream Big” is one that’s emotional and very personal. Mr. McGillivray said he enjoys sharing the story with his audience. “It’s all about learning experiences and sharing those experiences with others. The more our experiences can teach and motivate others the better.”
While the book is specifically about reaching one’s goals as they apply to running and specifically to finishing the Boston Marathon, Mr. McGillivray sees the book as about setting any type of goal and never giving up. “It is a book about setting goals and never giving up, about the comeback being stronger than the setback and always finding a path,” he said. “It could be about another sport, it could be about parenting, it could be about teaching, it could be about playing music, it could be about anything as long as its setting goals, not limits. I try to teach kids to become ‘accomplishers,’ accomplish anything.”
In the story Mr. McGillivray’s grandfather provides the young Dave with encouragement to reach his goal. In addition to being a story about finding one’s own inner strength, it’s also a story about connection and the importance of receiving support from at least one other person.
Although running is often seen as an individual sport, Mr. McGillivray sees the encouragement of others as essential. “I’ve always felt there is no such thing as an individual achievement or accomplishment,” he said. “It is always a team effort. If you run a marathon, it might have been just you getting you from the start to the finish but it was a team effort to get you to the starting line. We always have to remember that anything we accomplish we owe a debt of gratitude to so many others for helping us along the way.”
Mr. McGillivray said the reaction to the book so far has been overwhelming. “If I knew we would get this kind of response, I would have written a children’s book 20 years ago,” he said.
Mr. McGillivray credited Ms. Feehrer with much of the writing in the book, “I just did all the talking and all the storytelling.” The pair have several other projects in the works, including “The Home Run” a story about Mr. McGillivray’s 1978 run across America in support of The Jimmy Fund.
Copies of “Dream Big: A True Story of Courage and Determination” will be available at the New Balance Falmouth Road Race Expo at Falmouth High School Friday and Saturday, August 17 and 18, at the Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation booth. The book is dedicated to the memory of Joseph Middlemiss and to Jack Middlemiss, two brothers with pediatric heart conditions. A portion of the proceeds from “Dream Big” are going to the foundation, which helps pediatric heart patients and their families. The books at the booth will be autographed by Mr. McGillivray, who will also be on hand over the course of the expo to meet and talk with readers of all ages.