Persistence was the theme and message at the Amesbury Chamber of Commerce annual meeting Thursday night.
Longtime Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray was the keynote speaker and Vasa Waterfront Kitchen & Bar was the setting for the annual meeting, which saw Shaheen Brothers director of sales Peter Corrigan succeed Gould Insurance Agency owner Matt Sherrill as chairman of the board.
Named to his position with the Boston Athletic Association in 1988, McGillivray grew up in Medford where, at 5 foot, 4 inches tall, he discovered he was too short to make the high school basketball team. He said he was always picked last to play baseball in the playground as well, and knew the pain of rejection early on.
“It’s one thing to have an illness, to have cancer or a heart condition or whatever,” McGillivray said. “But, to be denied, to be rejected, to be made to feel like you have no self-worth at 14, 15 years old, by my own friends, was very, very difficult.”
While his prayers for more height were never answered, McGillivray said he eventually joined the Medford High School track team where he would find his calling.
“I started to run because no one can cut you from running, and I have run 150,000 miles since then,” McGillivray said.
Living his life by his motto “It’s my game, so it’s my rules,” McGillivray attempted his first Boston Marathon at 17, but had to drop out when he got to Newton.
Starting his second Boston Marathon with a stomach virus, McGillivray would end up finishing – in pain – and has run the marathon ever since. But as the man who now directs the race, McGillivray has to run the marathon after all the other runners have crossed the finish line.
“I have been the last finisher of the Boston Marathon for the last 30 years in a row,” McGillivray said. “I start at 8 at night and I finish at 11.”
The president of DMSE Sports Inc., McGillivray became famous for running from Medford, Oregon to Medford, Massachusetts, to support the Jimmy Fund in 1978. The Medford native has also participated in numerous other runs and relays across the continental U.S., the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii and he founded the Fenway Park marathon.
Race director when the Boston Marathon was bombed in 2013, McGillivray was asked by one of his five children not to run the race again immediately after the attack.
“My son associated danger with a road race,” McGillivray said. “I mean, it’s just a road race. But it is a lot more than that now.”
But McGillivray did not stop running the marathon and watched as the city and those affected recovered from the bombing.
“My greatest accomplishment is my next one,” McGillivray said. “What have you done for me lately? So the next thing is, I’m going to run in the World Marathon Challenge. That is seven marathons in seven days on seven different continents.”
In other news from the Chamber event, Grace’s Boutique & Gallery was named the organization’s New Business of the Year, and Mountain Top Landscape Company was named Business of the Year. Currently on track to serve one million meals this year, Our Neighbors’ Table received the Pillar of the Community Award.
“What we have been able to accomplish over the past 25 years is a direct reflection on the commitment of the Amesbury community,” ONT executive director Lindsey Haight said.
Morrill Electric owner, Ozzy Morrill was given the Chairman’s Award.
“I just like to put a twist on some words by John F. Kennedy,” Morrill said. “Don’t ask what your community can do for you, ask what you can do for your community. So, thank you.”