I love Boston. And I’ve written about my cancer journey and being the #CancerResearchEvangelist. This week reminded me of what I love about the city and this region. It started last Saturday when I was invited to by Ian Frenette, the President of the Boston Cannons professional lacrosse team to attend a game at Harvard Stadium with my boys. We had the privilege of watching the game as VIPs at the Optum Champions Club. What a first class experience, and great hospitality by the team, and the opportunity to meet team majority owner Rob Hale.
I’ve been working with Ian and his team on an important initiative through Play4TheCure, the fundraising platform of the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR). NFCR and the Cannons are partnering on a new initiative to unite the lacrosse community with the medical and scientific communities in Boston to raise money and awareness about cancer research. We just announced the partnership today, part of the Cannons Fighting Cancer initiative where NFCR is the primary beneficiary this year. We are excited to shine a bright light on the institutions in Boston that are at the forefront of cancer research and treatment. I’m grateful to the lacrosse community and the Boston Cannons to help me, the #CancerResearchEvangelist, support research in the laboratory in Boston.In addition, I was selected by the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center (MGH) as an honoree of the one hundred #EveryDayAmazing individuals — caregivers, researchers, philanthropists, advocates and volunteers from around the globe — whose commitment to the fight against cancer inspires us all to take action. My wife and I attended the gala in Boston last night…and what a night! (here's our #EveryDayAmazing video). The commitment, spirit and pride in the Boston healthcare community was evident – from the staff and volunteers of MGH to my fellow honorees, to the donors and sponsors at the event to support the MGH Cancer Center. We were warmly greeted, and led to a private VIP reception for honorees and sponsors. It was there that I met several honorees including fellow advocate Nate Solder from the New England Patriots, Rich and Mary Shertenlieb, from 98.5 the Sports Hub, and my friend, MGH researcher John Whetstine. Then Laura Renfro, daughter of Larry Renfro, CEO of Optum, welcomed us all – Optum is the Visionary Sponsor of the gala, and Larry and Rosie Renfro were the chairs of the 2016 event committee. They and Optum are generous and committed supporters of the MGH Cancer Center. I immediately saw the connection to the Boston Cannons – Optum is a big supporter of the team (I was just in the Optum VIP club at the game), and the team is committed to fighting cancer. and supporting research in Boston. I introduced myself to Laura and thanked her for her family’s commitment to cancer research. And we talked about how NFCR supports research at MGH - researchers like the Director of the MGH Cancer Center, Dr. Daniel Haber.
Once inside the grand ballroom, the night became magical as different honorees were recognized and videos were shown highlighting some of the more compelling stories. Stories of some of the 100 #EveryDayAmazing people who are making a difference. Jack Connors was the MC because Larry Renfro was unable to attend. He introduced the keynote guest speaker, Dr. Jill Biden, Second Lady of the U.S., who gave an inspiring talk about her family’s commitment to fighting cancer. After her speech, I went over and introduced myself to her and thanked her for coming to the event. She was kind, friendly and grateful for the work that I do to help the cause, and she wanted to find out my story. I told her that I had met her husband at a GBM event, and appreciated their commitment to the #CancerMoonShot initiative. So then feeling inspired by the encounter with Dr. Biden, I introduced myself to Jonathan Kraft, honorary chair of the one hundred, and President of the Kraft Group, which owns among other businesses, the New England Patriots. Just as Dr. Biden, for Jonathan it wasn’t about him at that moment – he wanted to know about my work, and why I was one of the Every Day Amazing people there. His passion for the cause and for MGH and Boston was so clear – he was so sincere and kind and I really appreciated our conversation. I told him that I was the “#CancerResearchEvangelist at NFCR and that we support Dr. Daniel Haber, Dr. Rakesh Jain and Dr. Alice Shaw at MGH and he knew that I was just like him at that moment – one of the people who appreciate and care about the people making a difference in healthcare in Boston and at MGH. And Jonathan told me about his good friend Larry Renfro, this year's event chair, and Optum’s commitment to MGH and Boston…and I thought of the Cannons and my work at NFCR, and what a small world Boston is.
Finally, I introduced myself to Dr. Peter Slavin, President of MGH. You guessed it…he wanted to hear my story, what my work involved, my connection to MGH and why I was being honored. Once I told him of the MGH researchers that NFCR supports, including that Alice Shaw was going to be featured on the cover of our next annual progress report, he said “you know Alice Shaw is here tonight, let me go get her for you so you can say hello.” And off we went, me and the President of MGH, as he spent 10 minutes walking me through the crowd because he wanted to make sure that Dr. Shaw knew I was there. Talk about #gratitude. And there were more encounters with very compassionate people all night. But clearly I saw the meaning of #EverydayAmazing. We really are all in this together. I love Boston. And I am proud of the work I am doing representing NFCR and making connections to support researchers in Boston. #gratitude