Hero’s and Traditions


During my very first year as a part of the runner and patient partner program for Kids At Heart/Boston Children’s Hospital, I was introduced at an event to a man who later became my Absolute HERO.

His name is Dave McGillivray.

Dave is a Meford based native who has spent nearly his whole life as a runner…when he was a little kid, he tried out for his first love, the basketball team, and even though he was very, very, good… he was told he couldn’t be a part of the team..why??? Because he was too short.

Dave seemed to always be the last pick because of his small stature. Later on, he went out for the cross country team and discovered that he was really good at running. At 16-he decided to run the Boston Marathon..without training for it. He didn’t end up crossing the finish line, but what he went on to do is is quite incredible..

These Are Just A Few of My a Favorite Things:

In 1978, McGillivray ran across the U.S. from Medford, Oregon to his hometown of Medford, Mass., covering a total distance of 3,452 miles and ending to a standing ovation in Fenway Park. His effort raised thousands of dollars for the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

-Two years later, he ran 1,520 miles from Winter Haven, Fla., to Boston to raise money for the Jimmy Fund, even meeting with President Jimmy Carter at the White House during the run.

-In 1982, McGillivray ran the Boston Marathon in 3:14 while blindfolded and being escorted by two guides to raise more than $10,000 for the Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton, Mass.

-McGillivray’s many endurance events for charity are legendary, including running 120 miles in 24 hours thru 31 Mass. cities; an 86-story, 1,575-step run up Empire State Building in 13 minutes and 27 seconds; and running, cycling and swimming 1,522 miles thru six New England states while raising $55,000 for the Jimmy Fund.

-In 2003, McGillivray created the DMSE Children’s Fitness Foundation to support non-profit organizations that use running to promote physical fitness in children and help solve the epidemic of childhood obesity.

-In 2004, McGillivray and a team of veteran marathon runners journeyed across the country following the same path he took in 1978, raising more than $300,000 for five charities benefiting children.

-Each year he runs his birthday age in miles, starting when he was 12, and has not missed one yet. He was born on Aug. 22, 1954 – you can do the math.

-The race director of the Boston Marathon as well as an accomplished runner, McGillivray has run the marathon each year since 1973. For 16 years he ran it with all the other runners and since he began working with the race in 1988 he has run the course afterwards. (Source)

Yes, I copied and pasted all of those things , but I actually knew them already. no, I’m not a stalker… Mr. McGillivray wrote a book called “The Last Pick.” Immediately after I met him, I rushed home to buy it because I couldn’t wait to read it.

At every start of the month of April, you can find me reading along to this book. I reread his story in the coming weeks before the marathon….Every. Single. Year. It is just one of my annual marathon traditions. (I have definitely earned the right to say that as this will be my eighth official one!)

WHY do I reread the same book I have read a dozen or so times again and AGAIN?!?! Because he is so freaking amazing, that’s why! This is literally a man who was told “NO, you CANT because you are NOT an athlete” and went on to prove his whole life that he is an athlete. He is the race director for the Boston Marathon, and he still runs the race, without fail, every single year. After his duties as director are through, Dave gets a ride to Hopkinton where he starts the race…much much later than the rest of the runners…but Dave has run it since he was a kid, and nothing will stop him. Not even the bombs at last years Boston: he was halfway through when he was alerted to the tragedy. Dave immediately rushed to the scene. But on April 26th, he came back..and he finished his race.

To me, I really identify with Dave because I feel he embodies the spirit of someone who truly loves the Boston Marathon. His heart was with those runners who didn’t finish the race last year when he created the 4th wave of runners.

This year, Dave plans to run for yet another amazing charitable cause:

For the 42nd time, McGillivray plans to complete his Boston Marathon course run. This time, he’ll do so to raise funds for the Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation, a charity that was formed by the parents of 8-year-old Martin Richard who was killed when two bombs were detonated near the finish line of last year’s race. (Click here to donate).

“This is a wonderful foundation for a very special boy,” McGillivray said in a press release. “I am proud to be running in his honor that day.(source)”


He knows no bounds! Someday, I hope I get to meet him again and tell him how much he has inspired me along my own journey of running.
I will never give up my own race to the finish line, and neither will he. Dave truly believes in every single cause that he supports and he coined one ofm y favorite phrases:

Strong legs run because weak legs can’t

—>This is why I run for my patient partner, Everett: My strong legs run because his can’t. Heat, Cold, Snow, Ice…I run for HIM. I can’t complain because his journey and the things he does through every day is/are its own marathon.

Running is a gift; not everyone can do it. Take a second and think about what our bodies can do: The strength they hold, the speeds they can accelerate to, distances we can cover-all of this done with just our own two legs-it makes you hyper aware of your own self, doesn’t it? Pretty awesome and freaking amazing, if you ask me!

If you want to read more of Dave’s incredible story, you can find the book here. >


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