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UMass ALS Cellucci Fund Boston Marathon team raises more than $70,000 for research

By Megan Bard

UMass Medical School Communications

April 22, 2019
  UMass ALS Cellucci Fund 2019 Boston Marathon team
  Members of the 2019 UMass ALS Cellucci Fund Boston Marathon team 

The 2019 UMass ALS Cellucci Fund Boston Marathon team successfully completed the 26.2-mile course and raised more than $70,000 to support the breakthrough research underway at UMass Medical School toward a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

For Julie Bowditch, one of the five UMass ALS marathon runners, supporting the Cellucci Fund was personal. Bowditch ran the marathon in memory of her uncle, Ron Merrill, who was diagnosed with ALS the weekend of the 2018 Boston Marathon and died from the disease in September.

“My mantra since I embarked on this endeavor and all through winter training has been that I wanted to run because he could not. I wanted to remind myself, and hopefully a few others along the way, how fortunate we are to have our health and that we don’t have to sit back and let our grief consume us,” said Bowditch, who ran with her uncle’s high school ring tied around her neck.

“This is a concept that Gov. Cellucci embodied and his family continues to embrace in his memory. Dr. Robert Brown and Dr. Fen-Biao Gao and their research teams are the real heroes. I was humbled and honored to have this opportunity to support their amazing work,” she said.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci dedicated the final years of his life to working toward a cure for ALS, founding the UMass ALS Cellucci Fund in 2011 to support ALS research at UMMS. It is home to the lab of Robert H. Brown Jr., DPhil, MD, the Leo P. and Theresa M. LaChance Chair in Medical Research; professor of neurology; and director of the Program in Neurotherapeutics. Dr. Brown is one of the world’s leading ALS researchers and was Gov. Cellucci’s physician. The governor died from the disease in 2013.

Through the support of the Cellucci Fund, Fen-Biao Gao, PhD, professor of neurology, was named the Governor Paul Cellucci Chair in Neuroscience Research at UMass Medical School.

Bowditch was joined by runners Dan Leone of Brighton, Kathleen Berry of Charlton, Michael Walpole of Hanover, and Edward “Teddy” Craven of Cohasset.

Learn more about and support the UMass ALS Cellucci Fund team here: