Thursday, July 24, 2014
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BU father, daughter duo return to Marathon to fundraise for cancer research

Boston University student Maria Stavros returned to racing with her father for the 2014 Boston Marathon to continue the race they were unable to finish after the bombs exploded at the marathon finish line on April 15, 2013.

“I actually thought to run again before the bombing even happened,” Stavros, a Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences junior, said. “When we were running and the race first started, I was just having so much fun. I could see myself doing it again the next year. After the bombings occurred, and I realized everything that had happened, there was no doubt in my mind that I would be running it again.”

During last year’s Marathon, Stavros and her father were forced to leave the course after the bombs went off, although both remained unharmed by the explosion.

“We were at about mile 24 when we first heard word that something that happened,” she said. “…We were able to keep running just past Kenmore Square when we were told that we couldn’t go any further toward the finish line … The police officers told us that we couldn’t keep going, but they didn’t tell us what had happened or why the race was over … It wasn’t until later on that I realized how bad the situation was.”

Stavros said when she and her father were unable to finish the race, she was struck with a whirlwind of emotions.

“I was confused about what had happened,” she said. “I was angry that I couldn’t cross the finish line being that close. … As time progressed, I was mad that someone would do such a terrible thing to the city where I grew up.”

Stavros’ father George Stavros, a professor at BU’s School of Theology, said it is important for his daughter and him to run again this year as proud Bostonians.

“The two of us are in it together, but for me it’s important to finish it,” he said. “Even thought neither my wife nor I are from Boston, we’ve been here over 25 years now, and we feel like Bostonians. Something about running last year and having the chance to run this year solidifies that we’re part of this.”

The team ran as sponsors for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute of Boston. Dana-Farber spokeswoman Cathleen Genova said the Dana-Farber team hopes to raise funds for cancer research.

“We have over 700 runners here on the team, and they all are raising money for early cancer research at Dana-Farber,” she said. “The team’s goal for this year is to raise $5.3 million. We’re very lucky to have so many people who are passionate about supporting Dana-Farber.”

Between the two, Maria and George raised more than $10,000 for Dana-Farber last year and said they hoped to raise $10,000 again this year.

Knowing people who have been affected by cancer, Maria said she was honored to run for an institution that works so diligently to find a cure.

“I’ve known a few people to go through treatment at the Dana-Farber, and they are such a great organization,” she said. “They really put such huge efforts into cancer research and finding a cure of cancer, which I feel is such an important thing in so many people’s lives. Running for cancer in general was something that I wanted to do. My aunt is a breast cancer survivor. She was my original inspiration to find a team to run for cancer.”

Supporting the running team was Stavros’ sister, SAR senior Julianna Stavros, who said for her father and sister, running this year’s marathon will give them the closure they need from last year’s tragedy.

“This is what they needed to do,” she said. “They were obviously disappointed that they didn’t get to finish. It was kind of no question that they were going to run it again so that they could finish the race this time.”

Maria said her and her father’s persistence in finishing the race resembles the tenacious spirit of the city of Boston.

“If you talk to anyone who’s from Boston, they have such pride and love for the city,” she said. “What happened last year was a personal attack on the city, and I think everyone who lived here felt it on a whole other level … It’s such a great day, and it’s a day that comes with a lot of pride and acceptance.”

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