A Natick resident who for 20 years has walked 26.2 miles in the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk, a one-day charity walk along the marathon route that supports the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, has received the first annual recognition as Team Captain of the Year from the organization.
Ellen Caliendo, 56, received the award on March 25 at the event’s Extra Mile Brunch, a program that recognizes walkers who raise more than $1,250.
Although Caliendo has been a long-time walker, last year she formed The Ovarian Cancer Brigade as a way to bring awareness about ovarian cancer to the forefront. She serves as captain over a 45-person team that raised $48,000 in 2011, the new team with the second highest fundraising total for last year’s walk.
Caliendo was nominated by her teammates for her dedication to fundraising and inspiring her friends, family, and colleagues to join her mission in raising money for cancer research and care.
Caliendo started The Dr. Ursula Matulonis Ovarian Cancer Research Fund at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and has committed The Ovarian Cancer Brigade to raising $100,000 for the fund over the next five years.
“Ellen’s enthusiasm and passion for the cause are infectious. She is the epitome of a great Team Captain and Pacesetter,” said Ann Beach, director of the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk. “Ellen is truly committed to the fight against cancer and Dana-Farber is appreciative of all her efforts.”
Caliendo walks in memory of three close friends who died from ovarian cancer, she said in a prepared statement.
“Ovarian cancer is a silent killer. Since there is no early detection tests once discovered many times it is too late,” she said. “The pain that comes from walking 26.2 miles doesn’t compare to the pain and suffering caused by cancer.”
On Sept. 9 this year, Caliendo plans to walk 26.2 miles in the 24th annual walk, still captain of her team. She will be among an expected 9,000 walkers who aim to raise more than $7.5 million for adult and pediatric cancer research and care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Since 1989, the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk has raised nearly $80 million for Dana-Farber.
To register for the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk Sept. 9, or to support a walker, or to become a virtual walker, visit www.JimmyFundWalk.org or call (866) 531-9255.
Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org