My Fundraising Page

Coming Home For More
Feb 20, 2017



See this face? This was my smile last April when I first caught sight of the finish line of my hometown Boston Marathon after making the famous left turn from Hereford Street onto Boylston. In less than two months, I will see that finish line again. A generation or two ago, I would likely never have made it to the starting line.

Oftentimes, our identities choose us more than we choose our identities. I never intended to be a cancer survivor, and prior to being a cancer patient I never expected to be a one-time marathoner (let alone an 11-time marathoner). Lo and behold, those are exactly what I have become. 

For the second consecutive spring, I will carry feelings of elation, determination, and disbelief through the most famous marathon course in the world, my hometown marathon course, as I run the Boston Marathon to help others in the fight against cancer. This year, I am donning the purple jersey of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team In Training program. I have worn the purple for four Chicago Marathons in the past, and I am honored to wear it in Boston in 2017.   

I have told my own story previously on fundraising pages such as these, and if you know me, you may know something of that story. This year, I am running in honor and in memory of a remarkable man named Joe Vijuk. 

Joe's wife Drenda, pictured above, is a good friend and a remarkable person in her own right. She was originally slated to run in Boston this April, but due to other commitments has delegated me to come off the bench as a fellow cancer fighter to take her spot. In doing so, I am dedicating my race to the memory of Joe. 

Joe Vijuk is no longer with us, but his was a life well-lived with enough experience to fill several lifetimes. Joe overcame the odds multiple times in his life. He and his family fled communist Yugoslavia to seek a better life in Canada when he was a child. Eventually he thrived, graduating from college and playing professional football in the CFL for the Ottawa Roughriders and Toronto Argonauts. Following his football career, he became a success in business and in time he and Drenda supported charitable causes through their foundation.

Joe was also a fellow cancer survivor, going through treatments and difficulties much rougher than I myself ever have had to endure. Despite this, he was a man who exuded optimism, kindness, and deep strength. I felt privileged to have met him, and will draw inspiration on the course from knowing that I am running in his honor.

In addition to a love of sports and a never-say-die outlook, Joe and I shared something else in common. We each received the gift of a longer life and years of additional health thanks to treatments made possible by the work of organizations like The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

By participating as a member of TNT, I am doing my small part to help raise funds to find cures and ensure access to treatments for blood cancer patients. My goal is not merely to cross another marathon finish line, but to help turn more cancer patients into cancer survivors.

Your donation will help fund treatments that save lives every day; like immunotherapies that use a person’s own immune system to kill cancer. You may not know it, but every single donation helps save a life with breakthrough therapies such as these.

Please make a donation in support of my efforts with Team In Training and help get us all closer to a world without blood cancers.

Thank you.



Supporter Comments

    "Thank you, Matt, for running to help more people wage a successful fight like yours against this illness. God bless, and have fun! Deb Hunter"

    Deb Hunter

    Fri Apr 14 10:29:54 EDT 2017

    "Yay Matt!! You are amazing!"

    Calli Merkel

    Tue Feb 21 04:02:50 EST 2017

    "GO MATT!! Here's to an amazing Boston marathon!! RUN STRONG!! "

    Erica Zander

    Thu Apr 06 08:45:01 EDT 2017

    "You can do 26.2! Have an amazing journey through Boston. Go TEAM! "

    JulieAnn Villa

    Mon Apr 10 09:14:02 EDT 2017

    "Way to go Matt!"

    Drenda Vijuk

    Mon Feb 20 09:56:29 EST 2017

My Fundraising Total

Raised: $1,296.20 | Goal: $1,000.00
130 %

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My Thanks To

Deb Hunter  
JulieAnn Villa  
Mary Jacobs  
Martha Morelock  
Erica Zander  
Marie Jarrell  
Kristen Dean  
Calli Merkel  
Drenda Vijuk