Brookline Runners with a Cause
Boston Marathon runners fall into two categories: competitors and fundraisers.
After Brookline Police Detective Cheryl Molloy ran the Boston Marathon in 2001 and 2003, she thought she would never run it again. But a week from Monday, she’s tying up the laces once more–this time, it’s for a cause.
“I turned 40 and thought I would run it again,” Molloy said, “but I said I would never run it again for no reason, because, ‘Wow, look at me, I’m so great!’ That and two dollars and two cents will get you a cup of coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts. I watched people run it for charities, a lot of people run it for cancer research, and things like that.”
While some runners compete, others run for a cause such as leukemia or supporting low-income women. Molloy is running for a lesser-known condition. She’s raising awareness for Prader Willi Syndrome, or PWS, a genetic disorder that results in chronic appetite, low metabolism and other developmental issues. It’s a cause close to her heart because of 10-year-old Julia Morrison, the niece of Brookline Police Officers Jennifer Paster and John Canney, has suffered from PWS since birth.
“When [Molloy] told me she was going to [run], I teared up,” Paster said. “Obviously she’s always been a good friend, but to me this is just above and beyond what I could expect from any of my friends. I know my sister, my whole family feels the same way, obviously we all love Cheryl. It’s humbling.”
The Prader Willi Syndrome Association of New England holds fundraising effortsfor PWS, including an annual walk in June. Although Molloy not officially affiliatedwith the organization, Molloy sees the marathon as the perfect platform to inform theBrookline community about PWS.
“The marathon is something that when you grow up in Brookline, you flock to every year because it’s fun and it’s an event,” Molloy said, “and the same people that come out anyway will come out now even moreso for this reason. They’ll come watch it, they’ll come cheer us on, I know Julia’s going to be there. It’s a big event, so why not?"
A group of friends already plan to cheer Molloy on as she passes Washington Square.
Brookline Library Director Chuck Flaherty, 60, is another public Brookline figure who plans to participate in the Boston Marathon this year. Flaherty first ran three years ago after his own brush with illness.
“To me, running a marathon is something I fantasized about for years, then I was diagnosed with cancer,” Flaherty said. “The doctors told me that the better shape you’re in, the better you’d be in recovery.”
Flaherty’s training this time around included a six-mile run starting right at the Brookline Library, along with Brookline Deputy Chief Assessor Rachid Belhocine. But because of the record snowfall and rough weather this winter, both Flaherty and Molloy struggled in their training for the big race.
“It was a tough winter, with very windy conditions,” Flaherty said. “I don’t mind the cold, but wind is tough. I didn’t do as much training.”
“I have two kids of my own and my husband works nights, so essentially I am a single mom in the evening and primary caregiver at night,” Molloy said. “So my training is done early mornings. But unfortunately with the winter we had I didn’t get outside as much as I liked to.”
With spring in the air, Flaherty and Molloy are prepared to hit the pavement. Each runner has his or her own drive to run, and no matter what the reason, both know the Boston Marathon is much more than just a race.
“I’m going to go out there and compete, but not with anybody else but myself,” Flaherty said. “It’s mind over matter, you will yourself to the finish line. It’s about not giving up. I’m not emotional, but it’s important to me.”
“I’m not doing it to be anyone’s hero,” Molloy said. “It’s the same reason I became a police officer, you always fight for the underdog. And that’s just how I feel about what Ido day in and day out anyway, knowing her and what a beautiful little girl she is.
“You think about what these families go through day in and day out, and at the end of the day, 26.2 miles is kind of joke when you watch the struggle of people with disabilities and people with this particular syndrome. That’s my motivation, regardless of weather, not to stop because she didn’t have a choice. She has to fight this every day, so what’s a few miles to run in honor of someone like that?”
If you would like more information on Prader Willi Syndrome or want to donate to the Prader Willi Association of New England, visit their website or follow them on Facebook. Julia’s family also has a fundraising page.