Holyoke firefighters to continue Boyle race tradition

Sept. 20, 2013
By Chris Maza


HOLYOKE – Despite original plans to halt it after a five-year run, the Lt. Danny Boyle Memorial Run will continue on.

Members of the Holyoke Fire Department will continue to honor Doyle, who died of brain cancer in 2008, with the annual event, which was originally organized by the Boyle family to raise money for the Brain Tumor Center for Research and Education at Massachusetts General Hospital.

“Debbie wanted to do it for five years. She had a number in her head that she wanted to give to Massachusetts General cancer research where Danny went for all his treatments and she surpassed her goal. Last year she was not only able to give to cancer research, but to the Holyoke youth football teams in memory of Danny,” Firefighter David Rex, one of the race organizers, told Reminder Publications.

“When Debbie said it was all done, a few of us got together and decided we really wanted to carry it on.”

This year’s race will take place on Oct. 12 at 11 a.m. at the Holyoke Lodge of Elks on Whitney Avenue.

Rex admitted that getting things off the ground has felt like a whirlwind as he, his wife April and other organizers first took up the cause just recently.

“This started about two weeks before Labor Day,” he said.

The first step in getting the race back up and running, Rex said, was ensuring that they had the Boyle family’s blessing.

“It was a hard phone call to make because she wanted it over,” Rex said. “But she was grateful that we were going to carry it on. She gave us her blessing, which was the most important thing for us.”

Keeping the event’s original spirit in mind, a 50 percent of the proceeds will continue to go to cancer research, but Rex said organizers also wanted to continue being able to give back to the local community, like youth sports, like Debra Boyle was able to in 2012.

“The youth football team just had to raise more than $50,000 for helmets. It’s getting more expensive just to register for youth soccer and parents having to buy uniforms now because it’s getting so expensive, and baseball it’s the same thing,” he said. “We’re still going to give for cancer research because that’s what this race was founded on. We’re never going to stop doing that, but we do want to start giving back to the Holyoke youth and there has gotten a resounding response.”

Rex said the goal was to have 500 people signed up for a race that attracted 344 registered participants a year ago. He added that he has been impressed with the initial level of support for the event in a short period of time.

“Holyoke is such a close-knit community that once the word gets out, people start passing it along really quickly,” he said, adding that in the public safety community, word has spread just as fast. “The Massachusetts State Police called because they heard about it through the grape vine. They were shocked it was going on and said, ‘We’re on board.’”

In an effort to include as many people as possible, in addition to the usual 3.5 mile cross country run and walk, this year’s event will feature a biking option as well.

“This is the first year we’re putting this in, so we’re not timing them. This year, the mountain bike part is more of a fun thing and if we get a good response, then we’ll take it to the next level next year” he said. “We wanted to incorporate everybody. This isn’t just a 3.5 mile road race, this is a way to remember Danny and remember all of those we’ve lost to cancer.”

Rex said organizers have made arrangements to ensure that runners and bike riders do not become entangled.

“The runners are going to start one way and we’re going to start the bikers the other way. At some point they will meet on the course, but there will be direction given so they don’t run into each other,” he said.

After the race, participants are invited to stay for a barbeque, festivities and a Chinese raffle. Those interested in donating a raffle prize this year also have the option of making that donation in honor of a family member who is fighting or has succumbed to cancer and their name will be displayed with the prize.

Donations can be sent to the Danny Boyle Memorial Run, 71 Southampton Road, Holyoke MA 01040.

Those interested in registering for the race can do so through Accu-Spec at https://eorcrunner1.wufoo.com/forms/danny-boyle-memorial. .

Those who register before Oct. 1 will pay $20 and will receive a custom designed T-shirt. After Oct. 1, the registration fee jumps to $25. Rex said that while T-shirts may not be available immediately to those who register after Oct. 1, organizers are looking into having extra T-shirts made after the fact that would be distributed later.

For more information, email boylerace@gmail.com.

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