MILLIS – All a parent can ask for is that when their worst nightmare comes true, there is a team of caring professionals there to help. For Millis resident Daniel Alexander, the nightmare was unfolding, but with the world’s top children's hospital less than an hour away, he soon found a sort of comfort.
Alexander’s daughter, Madelyn, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) about a year ago when she was 3 years old.
“When we first got to the hospital, I was like 'woe is me',” he said. “People are talking to you and you can’t really understand what they’re saying, you can barely digest this is happening to you.”
The initial shock began to dull for Alexander after his daughter spiked a fever and was sent down to the ICU of Boston Children’s Hospital.
“That was really sobering,” he said. “You realize that there are kids who are in much tougher situations.”
It’s been a year since that incident, and Madelyn is doing well with her treatment. She’s scheduled to finish her treatment next May.
Alexander said he signed up for the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk so that he could give back to the organization that changed their lives.
“We owe them our daughter’s life,” he said. “As soon as we got to the hospital and to the Jimmy Fund, my wife and I looked at each other and we knew we were going to have to start doing stuff for them. So, we’re happy to help out in any little possible way we can.”
Alexander and his family have built up a 20-person team, raising about $8,000. Their team, Maddie Strong, will start its 5k route at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and end at the Boston Marathon finish line on Boylston Street.
The Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk is the nation’s most successful single-day fundraising walk. The walk will be held on Sunday, Sept. 24. This year’s goal is to recruit more than 9,500 participants and raise more than $9 million for the nation’s premier cancer center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Since 1989, the walk has raised nearly $120 million for Dana-Farber. Last year, about 9,400 participants and 1,000 volunteers raised more than $8.7 million.
"We’re so thankful to live where we live, because it’s the best place in the world,” Alexander said. “Kids from all over the world are flying here to get treatment, and we’re right up the road. … It’s really assuring to know that these aren’t the guys who read the book, they’re the guys that wrote the book.”
Alexander said his involvement with the walk is his way of saying thanks for everything. He said he hopes their efforts can help struggling families in the future.
“You hope that no parent has to know that they have these places in their backyard,” he said. “But once you’ve been there and understand the amazing work they do saving people’s lives, you know you have to do something for them to try to make the next family’s adventure a little less scary.”
To donate to Maddie Strong go to www.Jimmyfundwalk.org and search for Maddie Strong.
Scott Calzolaio can be reached at 508-734-0389, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org