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Anderson steps up for Angel Fund with Boston Marathon run

by | Apr 7, 2024 | Featured

On April 15, Kiel Anderson will celebrate her birthday by running her first Boston Marathon, benefiting the Angel Fund for ALS Research.

The Angel Fund (theangelfund.org) is a regional charity supporting work at UMass Chan Medical School in Worcester. It keeps overhead and administrative costs low to focus on its mission: to fund research that will lead to better treatments and, ultimately, a cure for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, for the baseball star who died from it in 1941). Locally, the Sharon Timlin Memorial Event, a road race and family day at Hopkinton High School scheduled this year for June 15, is a major fundraiser for the organization.

“I’m very excited … and I feel so grateful to have been given this opportunity, to be able to [run Boston] for an amazing organization,” Anderson said.

Anderson has played sports and been a runner all her life, and she started doing half-marathons when she was in college at Stonehill. Although she’s been participating in long-distance races for the past 10 years, she said it’s still challenging.

“For me, it isn’t something that comes naturally,” she said. “And the challenge is very much mental.”

Kiel Anderson

Kiel Anderson will run her first Boston Marathon to support the Angel Fund for ALS Research.

Anderson, an interior designer whose roots are in nearby Mansfield, said it’s “always been a bucket-list goal to do Boston.” Family members who live in Hopkinton and are active in the community connected her with The Angel Fund.

She said she’ll count the experience as a win regardless of her pace, “as long as I’m moving forward. For me, it’s not about being the fastest or anything like that — it’s about challenging myself to go out there, create a goal, and be able to achieve it.”

And, as she wrote on her fundraising page (secure.frontstream.com/angel-fund-team-als-boston-marathon-24/participant/KielAnderson), it’s also “about standing in solidarity with those facing a daily battle against ALS.”

Anderson chose to support the Angel Fund because “ALS physically impacts people but doesn’t mentally affect them,” she explained. “It’s like being trapped in your body.”

ALS is a fatal neurological disease that attacks the motor neurons in the brain, causing increasingly debilitating paralysis. The condition is especially traumatic because the patient remains very much aware as they gradually lose the ability to control their muscles or communicate — and, eventually, to swallow or breathe.

It’s something Anderson reflects on often as she trains for Boston.

“I’m grateful every day that I am physically able to do this,” she shared. “I want to make sure that people who are affected by ALS have the best resources to create the best life moving forward for them.”

There is no known cause and no remedy for ALS, and only limited treatment options for those suffering from the disease, which can strike regardless of age, gender or ethnicity. An estimated 30,000 Americans will die from ALS this year. Funding is crucial to advance research that continues to look for a cure.

Anderson is proud to do her part, and in April, she’ll exemplify the tagline on the Angel Fund website: “Stepping up to cure ALS.”

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