Ally Colton fondly remembers the girl with the sparkly crutches.
That girl was Samantha Bourque, a Mansfield, Mass. resident.
Ally and Samantha met at a conference when they were high school students and developed a close friendship, and before the two met, Samantha was diagnosed with cancer. In 2009, Samantha – a past Joe Andruzzi Foundation (JAF) patient recipient – introduced Ally to the Foundation, and the two friends kept in touch as they started college – Ally at Iowa State University, and Samantha at Bryant University.
Sadly, in May 2012, Samantha lost her battle with cancer, and Ally has run the Falmouth Road Race for Team JAF – the Foundation’s athletic fundraising team – three times in Samantha’s memory.
“Outside of losing a grandparent, I had never lost a friend before, and I was looking for ways to process it,” Ally says. “That sparked my relationship with the Foundation.”
Ally is again part of Team JAF this year, but this time, she will be running the Boston Marathon – her first-ever marathon – on Monday, October 11, 2021, to benefit JAF and provide financial assistance to patients battling cancer throughout New England. She was supposed to run the Chicago Marathon for a different non-profit in 2020, but it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So, call it serendipitous that her first marathon is for a cause with such a personal connection.
“I always thought, ‘future me is going to do this,’” Ally said of running a marathon. “I felt like I was in a good place to dedicate the time and resources to training and fundraising. It’s a blessing in disguise. I’m very excited to have ‘Boston’ be my first marathon.”
Ally and her family have also experienced the devastating effects of a cancer diagnosis. Her uncle passed away from mesothelioma – a rare form of lung cancer – in 2019. She’ll carry the memories of both him and Samantha with her as she makes the 26.2-mile trek towards Boylston Street in Boston’s Copley Square.
“I feel like I’ve seen both sides of cancer acting very quickly and wreaking havoc on so many lives,” Ally said. “That has given me great perspective into what great work JAF does.”
To support Ally and other Team JAF 2021 Boston Marathon runners’ fundraising campaigns, click here!