by Chris Brewer
When can you run 13.1 miles in NYC and have Times Square shut down just for you? March 18, 2012, is your chance. Team LIVESTRONG is lacing up to take to the streets of the Big Apple, NYC! This will be our third year returning to the NYC Half Marathon, one of our favorite events. A thrilling new course will start in Central Park, take you through Times Square and finish at South Street Seaport. Join us for NYC Half 2012, or consider one of our other great Team LIVESTRONG events. Each participant on our team has a story of why they chose to take part in the fight on cancer. Check out Mark Buckley-Jones’ story below, he is kicking off his run season with the NYC Half Marathon – hope to see you out there!
What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Mark Buckley-Jones, and I’m a South African living in New York City. In 2012 I have chosen to take part in a number of New York City specific events with the aim of raising funds for them as a whole. Starting with the NYRR Manhattan Half-Marathon in January and culminating with the ING New York City Marathon in November, the “bucket” of events includes a number of ½ marathons and open-water swims, an Olympic distance triathlon, a century ride, a marathon and an IronMan triathlon – nearly 400 miles worth of races in total!
What is your cancer connection?
I lost my grandfather to the disease when I was very young, and one month ago I lost my father to cancer. As a family we had to watch him go through the endless treatments, the side effects and all the ups and downs, yet all the while we marveled at his optimism and determination to get better. My father was blessed to have access to top healthcare during his illness, and in my mother he had a pillar of strength to support him and care for him during the tough times. Many are not as fortunate as him.
What sets LIVESTRONG apart, in my opinion, is that it seeks to be more than just a cancer research institute. Don’t get me wrong – we need those too. But some of the people being supported by LIVESTRONG are those who have access to the medicine that might save them, but they’ve missed treatments because they had no transport. Or no child care. Then there’s a woman who walked into the LIVESTRONG offices with $7,000 in medical bills, and no real idea of what to do. It took the navigators at LIVESTRONG about fifteen minutes to realize that she was eligible for a federal program that took $5,500 off her bills immediately.
Now I’m not smart enough to find a cure for cancer myself. But I can swim, bike and run, and hopefully in doing so I can inspire people along the way to chip in small amounts here and there so that the really smart people can continue working on finding cures, and putting innovative programs in place to support those affected by the disease.
What made you become a part of Team LIVESTRONG?
Before 2011, I’d run 4 NYC marathons without raising a single penny for a charity. I was one of the lucky ones to always have a guaranteed entry, so why bother, right?
Selfishly, it took my father’s illness to incentivize me into running for a charity and trying to make a small difference. Being a fan of Lance, LIVESTRONG is a charity I was aware of and I’d made small contributions to in the past, but I’d never really researched what it is they do. The more I read about the programs in place, the more I realized it was an organization I wanted to partner with.
The LIVESTRONG wristband is now more about reminding myself of the difference I want to make in the fight against cancer, and less about being a fashion accessory that links me to Lance (no offense, Lance, I’m still a fan!).
Having been a caretaker, what is your one piece of advice you would give to those battling cancer?
Don’t be afraid to laugh during the better times, and to cry during the tough times. And vice versa, it’s OK to cry during the better times, and laugh during the tough.