Training for a marathon takes months of dedication and hard work. Fundraising while training for a 26.2 mile race may sound like a daunting enterprise to some, but not to Tony Chin and Mark Zurlo. After running and fundraising for a variety of charities over the years, the two men know they enjoy the challenges of charity endurance running. By setting and achieving their training and fundraising goals, they derive a deep sense of satisfaction from running for a cause.
Mark and Tony learned about Project Purple and its mission through their involvement with CharityTeams.org. (Learn more about charityteams.org http://www.charityteams.org/boston ) Founded by Susan Hurley, CharityTeams.org helps connect runners to causes they feel passionately about. Project Purple is one of the many charities the organization works with for the Boston Marathon.
As part of the fundraising team experience, Susan stages long runs in the Boston area, along sections of the marathon course. This allows runners to have company for their long runs while having the opportunity to do race-specific training. In addition, Project Purple runners have the opportunity to train with others who are running for charity. Runners can forge new friendships at these group runs and support one another in their training and fundraising. Over the course of these group runs, Tony and Mark had the opportunity to meet and chat with Project Purple founder Dino Verrelli.
Introduction to Project Purple
Mark says, “I got involved with Project Purple by meeting Dino at different Charity Teams races and events. I knew about the great work that Project Purple did and the way in which they supported their runners, but I had never had the chance to run for Project Purple before. When I received a bib for the Chicago Marathon through the lottery, I saw it as a great opportunity to raise awareness for the charity and raise money at the same time. I worked very hard to raise $10,000 for the Heather Abbott Foundation at the Boston Marathon, so my donor base is a bit tapped, but I do have a few loyal supporters who have made donations again this fall.”
While Tony first met Dino at the New York City Half-Marathon expo two years ago, the two have spent time together and talked through CharityTeams events. He says, “Dino and Project Purple have been out there during our training runs for the Boston Marathon to provide support and encouragement, and it is greatly appreciated. The opportunity to run the Chicago Marathon for Project Purple was a no-brainer.”
Born and raised in Boston, Tony works in the Biotech industry as a Business Systems Manager. He started running 15 years ago as a way to help himself recover from injuries he had sustained in mountain bike racing. Tony completed his first half-marathon in Providence, RI, in 2009.
In 2013, he did his first charity run at the Boston Marathon, raising money on behalf of Dana Farber. That year, he crossed the finish line, turned around and saw two bombs explode. Shaken, but undeterred, Tony returned in 2014 and 2015, running for the Joe Andruzzi Foundation. In 2016, he ran on behalf of the Heather Abbott Foundation.
Tony has been training through some pain leading up to the Chicago Marathon. He has three herniated discs in his back, which cause extensive lower body nerve pain. He has had to scale back his racing expectations due to this injury but is looking forward to having fun on the course and raising money for Project Purple.
Mark, who works in marketing for software company Autodesk, started running as a high school student. Though he says he was not a standout on his high school cross country team, Mark has stuck with running over time. Chicago will be his seventh marathon. For the past four years, he has run the Boston Marathon on behalf of a charity. After visiting Chicago, Mark decided it would be fun to run a marathon in the Windy City.
Mark hopes to run a Personal Record on the famously flat and fast Chicago course. “I have run a ton of races this summer and training has gone well so far. I am hoping to set a new marathon PR and run faster than I did at the Marine Corp Marathon last fall,” Mark says. In addition, he hopes to raise at least $1,000 because his company will match that amount. “I know it is a small contribution, but it will go a long way!”
Running to Fight Pancreatic Cancer
Both Tony and Mark are running the Chicago Marathon in memory of a special person. Tony is running in honor of Professor Tony Fink of UC Santa Barbara, who passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2008. He explains, “Tony was a graduate professor and friend of another Charity Teams running friend and her husband.”
Mark will be running in honor of his grandmother, who passed away from pancreatic cancer not long ago. He explains, “My grandmother recently passed away from pancreatic cancer, and she is the main reason I am running for Project Purple. She survived less than a year after her diagnosis. She was very courageous in her fight and somehow kept her spirits high throughout the ordeal. Prior to her diagnosis I knew very little about pancreatic cancer or how terrible of a disease it is, but now I realize how much still needs to be done to help those who are diagnosed in the future.”
Mark is committed to raising as much awareness for the disease as he can. He has been wearing his Project Purple singlet on all of his long runs and frequently posts about the cause on his social media accounts.Tony and Mark are currently counting down the days until the Chicago Marathon, where they will support Project Purple and all of those who are battling pancreatic cancer.
To make a donation to Tony and/or Mark’s Project Purple fundraising campaign, please click on the links below: