Down the Stretch They Come: Meet the Personalities Behind Team JAF


After months of training, the Joe Andruzzi Foundation’s marathon squad – “Team JAF” – is gearing up for the Boston Marathon®, but before our 21 runners hit the streets, take a few minutes to get to know the personalities who will be donning the official JAF bibs this Patriot’s Day.

And don’t forget – you can help us cheer on these runners as they approach the finish line from Back Bay Social Club on Boylston Street (10:00am – 6:00pm) this Marathon Monday at the official 2015 Team JAF Watch Party! Tickets are $50 (kids 12 & under are free), and can be purchased online at: A portion of proceeds raised will directly benefit Team JAF’s 2015 fundraising efforts!

Hoping to see you there, and remember – Always Run To. Always Run For. Never Run From.

– Jen and Joe Andruzzi

Q: Do you have any funny or inspiring running stories from 2015 training )or previous races)?

Seth Baerson: During the Super Hero 17 training run in February, I took a wrong turn on Beacon Street because I was following a runner that wasn’t going to the finish line. I ended up running an extra 1.5 miles!

Joe DiMuccio: [On running in the rain] I was at about mile nine when Rihanna’s “Umbrella” came on my iPod and I started singing the lyrics to pump me up. I didn’t realize how loud I was singing until I looked up and people around me were staring, laughing, or singing with me.

John Ponte: I was running my first Boston Marathon last year, and when my then 10-year-old had to write a short story for his English class, he chose to write about how the Boston Red Sox and the city of Boston came together after the tragic bombings to rally behind the team. He dedicated the book to me and wrote a page about how proud he was. He titled the dedication page, “My Dad’s Perspiration Is My Inspiration.” He got an “A” on the project.

Q: What is your favorite song to run to?

Emma Sellers: I have been known to sing, “I’m a Little Tea Pot” when I am running by myself to make sure I am staying at a “conversational” pace. I have also on occasion done the hand motions with it. Westborough drivers must think I’m crazy.

Seth Baerson: I listen to only one band while running – O.A.R.

John Ponte: I have my kids create a new playlist on my iPhone that I will listen to for the first time during the marathon. I found that I got bored with my music selections, so it is neat to not have any clue which song was going to play next. Last year, there were some interesting and funny picks, like “What Does The Fox Say,” “Don’t Stop Believing,” “Beat It,” and of course “Eye Of The Tiger.”

Joe DiMuccio: “Zero to Hero” from the Hercules soundtrack. I replace “Her-cul-es” with “Jo-ey-D” and it gets me going throughout the race (Who puts the glad in gladiator? Jo-ey-hercD! :))

Lisa George: Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb” – I love the lyrics to that song; life is such a climb!

Julie Cashman: Ed Sheeran, “Thinking out Loud” (the 1st line is “When your legs don’t work like they used to…”). I also like “Carry On” by Fun! (“My head is on fire but my legs are fine. After all they are mine”).

Dawn Minkin: “Best day of My Life” by American Authors! I heard this song while watching the NYC Marathon and thought what an amazing song…this will be my mantra when I get to run Boston.

What have you done to stay “upbeat” and motivated throughout training?

Emma Sellers: Not only do I think about the people I am helping, but I think about how I will be crossing a major thing off of my bucket list.

Seth Baerson: Completing the challenge is all the (Up)Beat motivation I need!

Dawn Minkin: I think about all the people who are dealing with cancer and having to deal with chemo, and radiation and all that comes with the disease, and there is no comparison. I run for them! They keep me motivated.

John Ponte: I’m inspired by all the other charity and JAF runners who are out there pushing themselves. The minute I start trying to come up with excuses for skipping training, I think of all the others who are out there already hitting the pavement.

Drew Lufkin: Being in Arkansas, I stick to Susan Hurley’s CharityTeam training schedule and their Facebook page for updates from other runners who are on the same plan. There’s a wide range of “characters” in that community, so the interaction is very inspiring.

Dawn Minkin: I think of ALL the positivity that is coming out of this experience!

Julie Cashman: I surround myself with inspiring enthusiastic people, reaching for the same or similar goals.

Joe DiMuccio: I am fortunate enough to be able to run and stay in great shape while others are not. I owe it to a lot of people to be the best I can be. That, and I think about all the food I get to eat after a long workout.

Is “runner’s high” a myth… or real?

John Ponte: Oh, it’s real alright. That’s one of the things that motivates me. When I was training for my first marathon last year, I kept telling people that I was “one and done” and would not run another marathon (or race) as soon as that one was over. The second I crossed the finish line in Boston, I couldn’t wait to run the next marathon. It’s not just a race; it’s the entire experience. It’s something that you cannot fully comprehend unless you’ve run in it. From the physical challenge of the race, to the fundraising you’re doing and to the sense of accomplishment you feel afterwards…there’s nothing like it. It’s a high like no other.

runnersJoyce Maiore: For me, it’s very real. I love doing other sports, hiking, biking, swimming, etc., but I never tend to get the same euphoria that I do from running!

Emma Sellers: I get less of a “high” and more of a sense of pride and accomplishment. I will say that if I am in a bad mood or upset about something, by mile five it doesn’t seem to matter anymore and after the run I am happy.

Joe DiMuccio: It is so real! It’s the equivalent of saying, “he’s playing out his mind” or “he’s in the zone!” Runner’s high is when you feel light on your feet, and something comes over you that just says, “I can do anything.” It doesn’t happen every race, but when it does, it is amazing.

Lisa George: It is true. When you’re running and not thinking of anything else and just enjoying the moment, that’s when the high comes.

What is the best training meal or snack?

Emma Sellers: I train with good, old-fashioned Gu (actually I use a different brand called Accel Gel). My favorite dessert is Key Lime Pie (I’m not a sweets person) so I have Key Lime Accel Gel and it does the trick and even tastes good in the process!

Joyce Maiore: I love pasta the night before a long run. But I keep it simple with a little protein to go along with it and nothing spicy or unusual. “Stick with what you know” is something all runners tend to say to themselves before a long run.

Lisa George: Bananas (no shock there), jellybeans, and I love coconut water.

John Ponte: I like to treat myself to either a Newport Creamery chocolate milkshake or once Spring rolls around, a refreshing Del’s Lemonade – both are Rhode Island staples.

Seth Baerson: I love to have a turkey and hummus sandwich on whole-wheat pita bread when I finish. While running, I really enjoy pretzels and Gu Chomps. They are like eating gummy bears.

Julie Cashman: Peanut Butter Fluff & Strawberry Jelly!

Joe DiMuccio: Night before a long run: Chicken Parmesan with pasta (minus the cheese). Morning of the run: protein bar. During the run: fruit snacks, some Gu, and water. Post fig newtonsrun: I love boneless wings.

Dawn Minkin: I’m loving Fig Newtons, Swedish Fish, and Body Armor these days.

Ben O’Meara: A protein shake with Maine blueberries and peanut butter.

What would surprise the inexperienced about marathon training?

Matt Birnie: It’s one of the best experiences of my life. You grow so close to everyone as you go through the training and fundraising together!

Shannon O’Brien: Running the Boston Marathon is an amazing experience and CharityTeams is a family—they make is fun!

Dawn Minkin: It is amazing the amount of friends you make – who actually become more of a family during your training. The camaraderie on Team JAF is unbelievable!

Ben O’Meara: If you stay disciplined – eat healthy (not always) and follow the right training program (always) – running [a marathon] is very possible.

Emma Sellers: Even though after each long run you wonder, how in the world am I going to add another mile, let alone 10 or more onto that length of run, the very next week you somehow do and it doesn’t feel as bad as you think it will.

Julie Cashman: You can do it – you not only develop a belief in yourself, but others believe in you.hands

Joe DiMuccio: You need to dedicate a lot of time to training. But IT IS FUN! Completing a marathon gives you the confidence to do anything.

John Ponte: I think I was surprised by the level of camaraderie that is out there with all the other runners. Whether you know the person or not, everyone is very supportive of one another. While you’re out there on the course running, you regularly run into other runners and complete strangers who are quick to cheer you on, shout some words of encouragement or give you a high five.

Seth Baerson: Cross training is so important. You can’t do it by just running long distances.

Joyce Maiore: You don’t have to run more than four times a week to finish strong at the marathon. Some weeks when I take an extra day off, I run much better on my long runs. I think inexperienced runners have this idea that marathon training takes over your life, which it can if you let it. But really, if you run frequently and make a realistic plan for your own capabilities, you’ll do well.

Lisa George: If I can do it, anyone can. You just have to set your mind to it!


Can’t make it to our Marathon Monday Watch Party at Back Bay Social Club? There is still time to help our runners reach (and exceed!) their fundraising goals – visit:


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