Terrorists And Melanoma…Suck

flagbostonUnless you’ve been under a rock or are not my friend on Facebook you know I’m running the Boston Marathon on April 21st.  I’ll write about that amazing experience after the race.  But I thought I’d pause for one moment and write a bit about two of the reasons I’m running – Terrorists and Melanoma.  These might as well be the same word because they both suck.


In just a few days the media will be talking about a moment last year we’d all like to forget but will always remember.  April 15 marks the one year anniversary of last year’s Boston Marathon bombing.    We’ve all read the stories and seen the horrific pictures.  And ever since being selected to be part of a charity team running this year’s Boston Marathon I bet I’ve recalled that day in my head and what those poor people went through a thousand times.  Instead of recalling the horror those bastards caused I thought I’d highlight a few of the hero stories I’ve since read.

There was a physician named Dr. Natalie Stavas who happened to run the entire marathon on a broken foot (injured in training) and who, after hearing the blasts, turned and ran some more – towards and not away from the people hurt.  She jumped the barricades and tended to the people on the ground not worrying about her own safety and ultimately saving many lives.

There were also the first responders.  Many of these were, fortunately, EMTs, doctors, nurses, firemen, police officers all trained to treat victims but who probably thought their day might consist of dehydration and possibly a cardiac arrest.  They all likely never expected what they experienced that day but all rose to the occasion without a second thought.

The marathon runners and Boston residents all jumped right in to help.  I remember watching the videos and what really struck me was how quickly EVERYONE ran to the aid of all the victims with no regard for a potential third bomb.

And the one who I originally pointed out in this blog series still sticks in my mind.  Carlos Arrendondo is the guy in the cowboy hat who was famously captured helping a victim, who had both legs blown off, get to medical attention.  I think he was even thought to have squeezed the artery as they raced to an ambulance to stop the bleeding.

I read a great quote in an article highlighting some of the “helper” efforts.  It was from a long time ago and from none other than Mister Rogers.  I’ve honestly never used a Mister Rogers quote in one of my blogs but he captured it perfectly:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” – Mister Rogers

I could go on and on.  There are literally a MILLION stories and it is worth reflecting a bit and taking stock in the goodness in all of us and particularly in the people of Boston.


I have reflected on the tragedy and been saddened by the senseless terrorist act.  The acts of heroism have been the shining light from last year and the piece of that story that we should all remember.  On top of reflecting and reading all of these great stories I’ve had a double bonus.  I have become a member of one of the best teams I’ve been a part of in my life.  It is still going on but I’m already sad because I know it will be here and gone before I know it.  Soon I’ll be able to reflect on one of the best experiences I’ve ever had with a group serving a common purpose.

“There is no ‘i’ in team but there is in win.” – Michael Jordan said that (I think).  Well, my team Running for Cover who are raising awareness and funds to support the Melanoma Foundation of New England are all winners!  We’ve already raised more than $300K as a forty-four person team and even though we’re small in number (compared to the larger charities with hundreds of runners) we are actually on the front page of the leader board of all the Boston Marathon charities.  That is the competitive me speaking.  But really, I’m amazed and proud of all the charity runner’s efforts.  Collectively these charities will have raised more than $20M when it is all said and done.  I still can’t believe that number and the generosity of people everywhere.

I know everyone on the Running for Cover team was moved by last year’s events and everyone wants to run the Boston Marathon.  But most importantly I sense a real bond forming amongst the team members in just a few short month’s time.  Most of the team is from the New England area and have been slogging through the snow and ice doing their training runs.  And a few of us are spread out across the country in California, Texas and Georgia among other places slogging through the sunny and ice-free days doing our training runs.  Throughout the entire training period for a marathon you’ll always have ups and downs, injuries and such but I haven’t heard a peep out of this team about their issues (not even much about running 20 miles in the snow.)  Instead, what I’ve heard is an outpouring of how can we do more to raise even more awareness, raise even more money to support the foundation and most importantly how can we help our teammates through their efforts and personal tragedies.

There are many stories on my team but none more powerful to me than one woman who lost her 20-year-old son in January to Melanoma.  Many of us have become friends with her on Facebook and heard stories of her son and seen pictures of the good times they had.  But we’ve also had our hearts torn out listening to her pain as she grieves.  “Melanoma sucks.”  It is a common post on her behalf.  And she is so right.  To use another quote she sent me – “Melanoma is a sneaky bastard and moves through a body with a vengeance like I have never seen. People need to know about this disease.”  She has seen this “terrorist” first hand and what I admire is her passion to spread the word and to help others know how dangerous this disease can be.  I’m proud to call her a teammate and fired up to run with her in person at Boston.

If you go to my donation site (http://www.crowdrise.com/mfneboston2014/fundraiser/paulgourley) and click on any of my teammate’s stories you’ll read the story of  others who have had loved ones die from Melanoma along with those who’ve survived and are now helping raise awareness and funds.  Take a moment to do so and I promise you’ll walk away with a different perspective and might even create a blog of your own to spread the word (and you might even quote Mister Rogers; or not; but maybe).

I’ve had an overwhelming outpouring of support and I thank you all for all of your donations and kind words during this Boston Marathon “run”.  You’d be surprised how many friends and neighbors we all know have been impacted by Melanoma as well.  I know I’ve over-posted and you’re probably ready for April 22nd (the day after the marathon) to be here.  But hopefully I have given you some new insights on this horrible disease and you’ll soon be breaking out the SPF 50 (or higher).

One more blog post and we’ll call it a day for BOB.

Only 11 days (wow) and 26.2 miles to go…


4 Responses to Terrorists And Melanoma…Suck

  1. Mom says:

    Won’t be long now … it will be an exciting weekend for you and your family. I took the “8 minute” run along your course (they had a map on one of the articles and drove a car through it) … some interesting places along the way. Run Paul, Run!

  2. patrice combs says:

    After all your BOB blogs, the moment of realization is almost here. I am proud to have accompanied you on your journey as you meet your goal. I remember an article you wrote once in the Cambridge Connection about me and Mike representing “inspiration” and “perseverance.” Me, because of Boston and Mike, because of his MS. I think you personify those 2 words yourself now. You are an example that anyone can accomplish a goal if they put there mind to it. I am very proud of you, my running friend!

  3. pgourley123 says:

    Thank you Mom and Patrice (my most loyal blog followers with comments)!! Nervous as all get out but ready to do this! (And continue to be inspired by my Paris Marathon elite neighbor!)

%d bloggers like this: