BOSTON, Mass. — In 2014, his friends started the hashtag ‘#PeoplesChampion’ on social media, tagging photographs of Peter Lorinser as he journied through his first marathon. Two years later, the U.P.-native is competing in his second Boston Marathon, and the theme continues. It’s more than a facetious way of cheering on their pal in the 26.2 mile race, Lorinser is actively championing for people, in memory and in honor of cancer patients.
“We fund research, cancer research,” said Lorinser, explaining the benefits of the Dana Farber charities. “So, all the money we raised goes directly to innovative cancer research that wouldn’t be funded through any other mechanism besides through philanthropy.”
On behalf of two dozen individuals, his charity-team, and other ‘unnamed and unknown’ people affected by cancer, Lorinser has dedicated each one of Monday’s 26 miles to a different person. He began a 26-day campaign prior to the event that raised more than $10,000 for cancer research at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, a world-renowned cancer treatment and research facility in Boston, Massachusetts.
“The ‘why’ behind what I’m doing makes the training that much easier,” said Lorinser. “I’ve trained for a marathon without running for charity, and I found it a very grueling experience, but now when I go out for runs, I know why I’m doing it, I know who I’m running for, and I think it just makes it all that much more important.”
The initials of 26 people are etched on the runner’s arms and shoulders with Sharpie marker. Written in black are cancer patients that survived their battle. The names in red are family members, friends, loved-ones and strangers who have tragically lost their lives to an unforgiving and deadly disease. Peter Lorinser runs to fight cancer.
“In memory and in honor of their fight with cancer, I share their stories, and a lot of people have opened up and shared stories with me. I carry those with me in my training runs.”
Held every year on Patriot’s Day, a Massachusetts state-wide holiday commemorating the beginning of the Revolutionary War, the Boston Marathon is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious marathon. In its 120th year, since 1897, the race has grown to welcome more runners annually than residents currently living in Lorinser’s hometown of Marquette county.
30,000 runners will participate in Monday’s run in one of two different ways. To compete in the Boston Marathon, runners can qualify, or raise money for charity. Since 1989 the Boston Athletic Association has supported as many as 30 official charities, this year raising over $15 million. More than 500 people are on Lorinser’s charity team, the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge (DFMC). DFMC has raised over $5.4 million dollars up to race day during the 2015 – 2016 fundraising season.
Although Lorinser is a dedicated and passionate runner, and completed his 2014 marathon in just three hours and thirty six minutes, today’s race isn’t about personal records. He logged over 500 miles training, but this year, Peter’s main hope was to achieve a ‘Pacesetter’ standing within his charity-team by raising $8,000. In accomplishing that (and beyond some), he considers his personal challenge already won, and Monday’s 26.2 miles a mere victory lap for those who have supported him.
“The research that we’re raising money for, that’s the real work that we’re doing,” said Lorinser. “That’s why we run for charity. There’s a lot of charity runners in the Boston Marathon… and any marathon is hard, but we run with a lot of pride knowing that what we’re doing is impacting so many millions of people.”
“The group that’s behind me and running with me is… A lot of people are crossing the finish line with me tomorrow, family and friends. It’s been an emotional weekend.”
Lorinser says that his team’s goal is incomplete, as the war against cancer is ongoing. His personal goal transcends beyond miles raced or money raised, and his ultimate hope is to one day live in a world where cancer is irrelevant.