Team JAF: Magical Moments at the 2024 Boston Marathon®

To the general spectator, the 2024 Boston Marathon® presented by Bank of America might be epitomized by the big highlights—the City of Boston’s transformation as it welcomes runners worldwide, watching the elite runners seemingly glide through the course and, ultimately, reach the finish line on Boylston Street. However, for the Team JAF community, the magic is in the multitude of smaller but equally memorable and heartwarming moments.

This year’s 128th running of the Boston Marathon® on Monday, April 15, had 23 runners representing the Joe Andruzzi Foundation (JAF) among the thousands that run each year. Team JAF was once again proud to be a part of the 2024 Bank of America Boston Marathon  Official Charity Program – a program that supports the Boston Athletic Association’s (B.A.A.) mission of promoting a healthy lifestyle through sports, especially running. We were honored to have GlideFast as our exclusive lead sponsor for Team JAF.

Marathon Weekend kicks off for Team JAF with the annual pasta dinner at Davio’s in Boston. On a wonderful evening just two days before race day, runners gather for a meal to celebrate their fundraising and training accomplishments. Amid the laughter and sharing of race day tips, JAF recognizes individuals with fun team awards (see below for list of winners) and welcomed GlideFast CEO and JAF Board Member Mike Lombardo as our guest speaker who shared motivational words and gave us our rally cry of #LFG, something Mike uses as his personal motto. We also celebrated our two official patient inspirations Molly and Lauren who gave support and motivation to our runners throughout the year.

Although a little hot for the runners, Boston could not have served up a better weather day for the spectators on Marathon Monday! JAF was camped out at mile 17.5, joined by runner families and friends. Music by DJ Julio Sanabia of 617 Weddings had everyone moving and singing, especially the runners who passed by. Our cheer station was fully stocked for runner-aid and supporters alike thanks to Honey Dew Donuts, Zen Water, Shaw’s Supermarkets, and Ucan. Our runners looked their best in their official Team JAF singlets provided by New Balance!

This year’s team was PHENOMENAL when it came to raising funds to help New England cancer patients. Team runners raised a total of over $308,000 (donations are still coming in) and, when combined with our GlideFast exclusive sponsor of $10,000 brings the official grand total to $318,000 and climbing! Our top fundraisers were Jen Andruzzi, Michelle Rosenblatt and John Ponte. We even had a trio of runners from Henry Schein, Inc. – David Hochman, Tim Vassilakos, and Foti Panagakos – whose combined total funds raised was over $36,000.

Brent Watton, Tim Vassilakos and David Kochman on Team JAF had the fastest times this year. David Santoro celebrated his 35th Boston Marathon with us this year! Runner Miguel Nunez received is 6th and  final Abbot Star.

Now, back to those other unforgettable moments from the day.

Luke Renchan of Tiverton, Rhode Island, ran his first Boston Marathon and exceeded his fundraising goal. While Luke was on the course, his son, Luke, was at the JAF cheer station and, completely unsolicited, jumped in to start handing out water to the passing runners. Luke stood there for hours, even enlisting his younger brother until his father arrived at mile 17.5.

Melissa Frontino of Norwood, MA, is an invitational runner who has previously participated with JAF. Upon reaching the cheer station, Melissa was ready for a quick break, and her family came out to greet her. However, we all watched as her young daughter quickly zig-zagged through the crowd to find and hug her mother. It was the moment that the little girl had been waiting for all day and one that stole our hearts. Fun fact: Melissa and her husband (who was also running) were celebrating their 10th anniversary of getting engaged on the course!

For Kyle Santorine (former college lineman) of Boston, this was his first Marathon, so it was a family affair at mile 17.5! When Kyle arrived at the cheer station, his parents, fiancée, in-laws, and others poured out onto the course for a photo, hugs, and sign-waving.

The big finish goes to JAF’s President and CEO, Jen Andruzzi. Jen celebrated her sixth(!) Boston Marathon this year! The entire JAF staff and Andruzzi family awaited her at the cheer station, complete with signs, cowbells, and cheers. It was an emotional arrival as Jen’s children and GlideFast CEO Mike Lombard escorted her the final mile.

Special shoutouts go to some of our former team JAF athletes who came out to cheer on this year’s team in spectacular fashion – Suzanne Veins, Ally Colton,Greg Farrington, Emily Mahoney, Stephanie McHugh, Becky Cloutier who, when asked if they needed a break, they quickly replied with a smile, “No, thanks, I’m here to pay it forward. I know what they are going through right now.”  Also, to Susan Hurley and Charity Teams for their incredible support of our runners this year! As always, all these moments were expertly captured by Team JAF photographer Stacey Howard. In what has now been several years of generosity, our thanks goes out to the Boston T Party group who made a donation of $8,000 in memory of a dear friend.  This donation is shared across Team JAF runners.

JAF knows that the Boston Marathon® isn’t all about the ‘big finish’ – it’s truly the journey. From deciding to run, the training, the long runs with other charity runners, the fundraising, and the emails from Team JAF’s leader Gillian O’Brien, it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. As an observer, you are in awe of the camaraderie of the runners; it is fun to see the outfits or the flags they carry. You gain respect for the physical commitment, seeing the pains, strains, and sweat. You learn what runners need to complete this challenge: salt packets, pretzel sticks, water or Gatorade, wet cloths, or Band-Aids. Most of all, what carries these runners are the cheers, signs, music, and smiles that line the racecourse.

The 2024 Team JAF Boston Marathon runners are an inspiring group of individuals for whom JAF and the cancer patients we help are incredibly grateful. Because of them, thousands of patients struggling to make ends meet during their cancer treatment will receive some extra help, hope, and reasons to smile. Thank you to our runners, their families, communities, and supporters for everything you’ve done this year! Congratulations! We applaud you ALL!

Jen Andruzzi

John Christian “JC”

Andrew Cowles

Sarah DeVillers

Richard Fay

Melissa Frontino

Ryan Kalan

David Kochman

Kendall McDonough

Michael McNally

Miguel Nunez

Fotinos Panagakos

John Ponte

Olivia Pullin

Luke Renchan

Noah Rosa

Michelle Rosenblatt

Kyle Santorine

David Santoro

Kyle Szewczyk

Tim Vassilakos

Caroline Vincent

Brent Watton


2024 Team JAF Awards

Team Spirit Award – Sarah DeVillers

JAF Ambassador Award – Luke Renchan

Unsung Hero Award – Kyle Szewczyk

Highest Fundraiser Award – Michelle Rosenblatt and John Ponte!

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