Today, MHS Alum, and the Race Director of the Boston Marathon, Dave McGillivray, spoke at the McGlynn Elementary and Middle School about his new book, “Dream Big: A Story of Courage and Determination”. Dave spoke to the 5th and 6th grade classes first and then followed with the 7th and 8th grade classes. Principals Diane Guarino and Nick Tucci welcomed him to the school and thanked the Citizens of the Year (COTY) for co-sponsoring the event. Dave, along with Jack Dempsey, a Media Teacher at MHS, who filmed the event, and Dominic Camarra, a retired Foreign Language Teacher at MHS, have all received the Citizen of the Year Award from the Medford Chamber of Commerce. McGillivary, not only organizes the Boston Marathon and many other road races, but he is also a motivational speaker, having delivered over 1900 speeches to all age groups worldwide.

Dave began his remarks with; ,”This is where it all started. I grew up in North Medford, and attended the Davenport Elementary School, the Roberts Junior High School and graduated in 1972 from Medford High School as the Valedictorian. I always say that everything I achieved in my life I learned in Medford”, said McGillivray.

He asked the students if they run or walk. A lot of students raised their hands for both. Then he asked them if any had ever run a road race. A few of the students raised their hands. Then he asked the students, if any of them would ever want to run a road race. Hands went up and Dave chose a student, Xavier, and asked him to come onto the stage. He presented him with a medal. On the back of the medal was Dave’s home address. Dave told Xavier that once he ran a road race and received his own medal, then Xavier could mail back Dave’s medal to him. “I’ve given out about 400 medals and I’ve had 390 returned!”  

Dave continued, “When I was little, I had big dreams. I wanted to be an athlete and play for the Celtics or the Red Sox. But I was little and kids would always pick me last. Even in high school, I was the last one cut from the basketball team. I felt rejected when I didn’t get picked. I mean, I never dreamed I would become the Boston Marathon Race Director. I dreamed of being Larry Bird! I’d pray to God to help me grow. While I may not have grown in height, I did grow morally, intellectually…it is who you are on the inside that is important”.

“Instead of being depressed, I started running, matter of fact, I started right here at Hormel Stadium. On my 13 birthday, I ran 13 miles. On my 14 birthday, I ran 14 miles and so on. This August is my 64th birthday and I do intend to run 64 miles and finish at Fenway Park while raising money for the Jimmy Fund. The motto for my life has been, My Game – My Rules, which means that you guide your life, and at the end of the day, the way you live your life is up to you!”

“When I was 17, I told my grandfather I was going to run the Boston Marathon. He said, great! I’ll meet you at mile 24. I began the marathon that day and felt badly in my 5th mile. I had to go to the hospital. When I finally got home, I called my grandfather. He wasn’t home. I kept calling him until I reached him about 9 PM. I asked him where he had been. He said, where have you been? I was out there at mile 24 waiting for you. I said, I’m sorry I failed. He said, you did not fail. You learned a lesson. That’s never a failure. You learned you can’t set reckless goals. You didn’t train for this race. You know now that’s what you have to do and next year, I’ll be there cheering you on. Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away 2 months later. But I knew I’d run the marathon because I’d promised him. Now I’m 18 years old, and I’m ready for the marathon, except I have the flu. My parents are pleading with me not to run, but I have too. I am struggling and finally at mile 21, I just have to take a break. I feel like I just can’t finish. Then I turn around and see my grandfather’s tombstone. It was a defining moment for me. He may not physically have been with me, but spiritually, he was there. I got up and finished the race in about 4 hours.”

“I would continue to run the Boston Marathon for 15 years and then I was asked to become its Race Director. What a great opportunity. As the first marathon I headed as Race Director ended, I felt like I was missing something. I asked the State Trooper assigned to me if he could take me back to the start line. The Trooper asked me if I forgot something there. I said, yes, I forgot that I had to run this race. I finished by myself at about 11 PM. I have finished the race last for the past 31 years. It doesn’t matter that I finish last, it matters that I finish…my game, my rules.”

“I like to call myself the original Forrest Gump. I’ve run from Medford, Oregon to Medford, MA for the Jimmy Fund, and I’ve run beside Bob Hall, one of the first wheelchair athletes, running the entire Eastern Seaboard, and I ran the Boston Marathon blindfolded with assistants, to raise money for the Carroll Center for the Blind. In addition, I’ve participated in numerous Ironman competitions in Hawaii. Most recently, I competed in the World Marathon Challenge: 7 Marathons, 7 Days on 7 Continents. I did it thinking of my little pal Jack who was awaiting a heart transplant. About a month after I had returned from the Marathon Challenge, Jack’s Dad called me to let me know, Jack was getting a heart. Jack’s older brother had died of cardiomyopathy and Jack was born with the same disease. Jack would survive due to the heart transplant. That’s my hero. I gave Jack all my medals from the World Marathon.”

So, in closing, what do I want to be when I grow up? I want to be an Accomplisher…I saw this on a billboard on 93 for the Girl Scouts. You should want to try to accomplish things in life. Never underestimate yourself. There is only one way you can fail in life…it’s when you don’t try. Even if you don’t achieve your goal, you will learn. Always chase your dreams. Don’t allow someone else to tell you that you can’t do something. Dream Big. Set goals for yourself, but not limits. Lastly, never forget that there is no such thing as individual achievement. You are surrounded by your family and friends. Those are who are important in life! Be resilient. Take care of your body, don’t smoke, drink or do drugs. Even me, I thought I was Superman, yet I have heart disease! Despite running over 150,000 miles! So I’ve changed my diet, reduced stress and I sleep more. By making significant changes in my health, I’m doing much, much better. You are so lucky to be in this school and in this great city. Don’t squander it. Every day is a gift. Thank you all very much!”

A number of the students and teachers approached Dave to thank him for his presentation. The school gave Dave a McGlynn School tee shirt, that states, “Kindness begins with me”. In addition to Principals Tucci and Guarino, and McGlynn Middle Assistant Principal Jody Liu, also in attendance were School Committee Members Kathy Kreatz and Paul Ruseau, and State Representative Paul Donato.