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  2001 BOSTON MARATHON

ABC's Lisa Ling is a runner with a cause

Lisa Ling of ABC TV's "The View" with her aunt, Anna Pierce, who founded "Ali & Dad's Army" to benefit pediatric cancer research. (ABC Photo)

By Bill Griffith, Globe Staff, 4/10/00

"Closure" is an overused word, but in Monday's 105th running of the Boston Marathon, Channel 5 and ABC will be following a bittersweet tale of making something positive come from twin tragedies.

Lisa Ling, co-host of ABC's daytime talk show "The View," is tackling the marathon as a footsoldier in Ali & Dad's Army. The $70,000-plus Ling stands to raise will bring the Ali Pierce Endowment Fund at UMass Medical Center past its goal of $1 million.

Most area runners know the Ali & Dad story. After John and Anna Pierce of Princeton, Mass., lost their daughter, 14-year-old Alison, to liver cancer in 1996, John formed Ali's Army, a group that would run the 1998 Boston Marathon to raise funds for pediatric cancer research. But John collapsed three feet from the finish line of a New Hampshire half-marathon training run, dead of a heart attack.

At John's funeral, Anna told mourners of her decision to form Ali & Dad's Army and raise $500,000. That has been done, and much more.

A benefactor donated $3 million for the John Pierce Memorial Lab at UMass, and Anna Pierce's goal of $500,000 has doubled to $1 million.

During all this, her niece, a recreational jogger, was wondering how she could help. News of the final push toward the $1 million goal gave her the impetus.

And that's how that niece, Lisa Ling, started training for the marathon. A segment on "The View" about her plans brought in pledges. A visit to Channel 5 last month brought in more. Channel 5 plans to update her progress during the race. You can follow her -- and the runners of your choice -- at www.baa.org.

Numerous charities use the Marathon as a fund-raiser, but this year's race is the last chapter (hence closure) in this part of Anna Pierce's life. She and her two sons will relocate to California after this year's race.

For more information on Ali & Dad's Army, log on to www.abc.com and click on ABC Shows, then "The View" or call UMass toll fee at 1-866-88 UMASS.

Channel 56 will have short biographies on marathon legends each morning this week at approximately 6:45. Bill Rodgers was yesterday's subject. Up today is first wheelchair winner Bob Hall, to be followed by first female finisher Roberta Gibb tomorrow, Johnny Kelley Thursday, and Kathrine Switzer Friday.

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