The Shawn Thornton Foundation is dedicated to helping find cures for diseases close to Shawn's heart, specifically, Parkinson's and cancer. The Foundation will work towards this mission by raising awareness, funding innovative research and helping to relieve the burden and improve the quality of life for patients and their families.
Many people are connected in some way to at least one of these diseases. While I know a number of individuals who have been diagnosed with either Parkinson's or cancer, the two main reasons I wanted to be associated with the Shawn Thornton Foundation are my father and my brother.
My story begins over 20 years ago with my brother, Lee. He was diagnosed with Leukemia a few weeks before Christmas in 1998. Most people would believe that chemotherapy, radiation, and a bone marrow transplant saved his life. However, if you ask Lee, he would tell you the birth of his guardian angel, Ashley, between those treatments is the reason he finally won his battle and still remains an undefeated champion. I was thirteen years old during my brother’s fight against cancer and I used sports as a way of dealing with everything that was going on. Playing basketball and soccer allowed me to escape and created a way for me to find peace.
In order to keep this short, I’ll jump to 2015. That is when my father acknowledged he felt something was wrong with his speech and mobility. After a long process of ruling out other possibilities for his symptoms, he was diagnosed with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP). PSP is fairly uncommon and much less known than Parkinson’s. PSP is similar to and can be misdiagnosed as the more popular disease, which is why it is categorized as one of the Parkinson’s plus syndromes.
As a way of coping with the mental and emotional stress that came with witnessing my father’s physical deterioration, I started running. This came as a surprise to those who know me best since I hated running for many years and I viewed it as a form of punishment. Somewhat ironically, the origin of my distaste for running can be traced back to my childhood when my father coached my soccer team. The sound of a whistle blowing and him yelling “Take a lap!” was pretty standard during practice.
No one ran alone during those practices because we were part of a team, which meant that when one of us had to run, we all had to run. This concept of unity was probably engrained in my father while serving in the Army or during the more than twenty years he worked as a Massachusetts State Police officer. The team mentality my father instilled in me has proven to be truly valuable in the many years since my youth soccer days.
I decided to join Thorty’s Boston Marathon Team because I want to make a positive impact and now I know it would be more effective if I don’t run alone. Please join my team by making a donation and spreading the word about this wonderful charity. I will run the miles, but we will cross the finish line together.