Harvard College Library

Michael Olson Supports cancer Research by Running Boston Marathon

April 10, 2002 -- At the thought of running 26.2 miles most people will quickly check for their car keys. But for Michael Olson, librarian for Germanic Collections, the thought of running 26.2 miles, the length of the Boston Marathon, is invigorating and inspirational. Olson is running as a member of the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge (DFMC), a group of 400 runners racing to raise over $3 million for cancer research. His determination comes from his enjoyment of running, as well as the cause he is supporting.

"Both of my parents died of cancer and many of the people sponsoring me have loved ones affected by cancer. I will write the names of 56 cancer survivors or victims on the back of my jersey on race day and they will push me to the finish line," said Olson.

On Monday, April 15, Olson will join fellow DFMC members in Hopkinton, Massachusetts to start the 106th Boston Marathon. He has already exceeded his personal goal by raising over $10,000 to benefit the Claudia Adams Barr Program in Innovative Basic Cancer Research, located at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Michael Olson celebrates with Larry Theriault at Larry's 10th birthday party
at the Roller Palace.

Olson is also participating in the DFMC Patient Partner Program, a program that matches children suffering from cancer with a marathon runner. The patient meets the runner at the 25-mile marker on the day of the race and the two walk through the finish line together. "I am matched with Larry Theriault, a young man whose strength and good cheer are truly inspirational. Larry is afflicted with neurofibromatosis, a set of genetic disorders. We met a few weeks ago and I couldn't believe it, but when I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up he said a librarian! At that point, he didn't know I was a librarian," said Olson. Olson's family and Larry's family have since made trips to Widener Library and the Cambridge Public Library as well as enjoying other activities together.

This is Olson's second marathon and his first with Dana-Farber. "The camaraderie is wonderful. I'm feeling really prepared for the race and it is partly due to the support," said Olson, who began seriously training for the race last November. For the past few months the group has gathered on the weekends to train together, running 15 to 20 miles. The group also provides a suggested training schedule and a bus tour of the marathon course.

When asked if he thinks he will run the marathon again next year Olson said, "I'm hoping to run as a member of the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge for as long as I am able."


This story appears courtesy of the Harvard College Library Communications Office
Copyright © 2004 President and Fellows of Harvard College