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Gendron’s Boston Marathon run honors father, helps Spaulding Rehab

by | Apr 11, 2023 | Featured, Featured: Features

Danielle Gendron

Hopkinton native Danielle Gendron, shown doing a recent training run in New York’s Morningside Park, is running in the 2023 Boston Marathon in memory of her father, Arthur L. Gendron Jr., and to raise funds for the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network.

People run a marathon for myriad reasons — as an athletic feat, to raise money for charity, to achieve a personal goal. Danielle Gendron is running in the 127th Boston Marathon to honor her father, Arthur L. Gendron Jr., who passed away from pancreatic cancer in February 2022. She also is running to raise funds for the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, which helped her father recover from his 2019 stroke.

Growing up in Hopkinton, she attended the race with her dad. “Some of my earliest memories were of him bringing me to the start line in a stroller and holding me on his shoulders to see all the runners,” she said.

She continued, “My father had his first stroke in 2019. He spent a week in the hospital, unable to communicate or complete basic tasks. Luckily, he was admitted to Spaulding Rehab Hospital for treatment. I was able to watch and help as the amazing staff and my father put in the work to restore speech, mobility and independence. Spaulding Rehab gave my father back his life.

“Unfortunately, my father passed away in February of 2022 from pancreatic cancer, but in those two years he would frequently declare that each day was a gift, and Spaulding allowed that gift to be the most that it could be.”

As a Spaulding donor, Gendron received a notice in November that the organization was looking for charity runners. “I jumped at the chance,” she said. “It was a way to give purpose to my grief and to raise money for an organization that helped my dad.” She added, “They literally and figuratively got him back on his feet.”

Having run a few half-marathons in 2022, including the one sponsored by the Boston Athletic Association in November, Gendron felt she was in good shape. She said training for her previous runs had been another connection with her dad. “I used to call him on my runs, since he was the only person up at that time,” Gendron said with a laugh. “Training makes me feel close to him.”

Gendron selected one of the training plans provided by the Spaulding team coach. “I started formal training in mid-December,” she said, running various routes in Manhattan, where she now lives. She met with the Spaulding team, which now has 81 members, in January and planned to run with the group a few more times before the April 17 race.

Although a little nervous about running the complete 26.2 miles, Gendron is honored to be taking part in something that was an important part of her childhood. “It was an exciting event for the whole town,” said Gendron. She remembers the fun of the event held at Elmwood School when the Kenyan runners would visit. “We would have an assembly, shake hands with all the runners and sing the Kenyan national anthem. It was a yearly event in my childhood,” she said.

It also holds a lot of family memories. “We would be at the same spot each year and would see which of us could get the most high fives from the runners,” she said, referring to her two siblings. Both have competed in the Boston Marathon — sister Andrea ran in 2017 to benefit the Martin Richard Foundation, and brother Grant ran in 2022 for the Boston Public Library. They and her mother plan to attend this year’s event to cheer for her.

Summing up her feelings, Gendron said, “I know what the Marathon means for our town, and this particular year it means the world to me,”

To support Gendron and raise funds for Spaulding Rehab, visit givengain.com/ap/danielle-gendron-raising-funds-for-spaulding-rehabilitation-network.

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