According to Michael DiSilvio, he's not a marathoner. He's more of an "athlete with a pair of sneakers." But that said, the 49-year-old Lynnfield resident is getting ready to run his fourth Boston Marathon this April 16th - and along the way, he's raised thousands of dollars for cancer research in honor of his late mother.
DiSilvio, who lost his mother to cancer 29 years ago, ran his first Boston Marathon in 2000, and then did it again in 2008 and 2011. DiSilvio said that running a marathon had previously been on his "bucket list" of things to do, and that as the 2000 Boston Marathon was fast approaching, somebody told him he wouldn't be able to do it. That was all the motivation DiSilvio needed to get involved with his first marathon - especially when he quickly realized that by doing so, he would also be able to help raise cancer awareness.
"Everybody knows somebody touched by cancer," said DiSilvio. "The heroes are the donors." He sent out some fundraising requests to family and friends in 2000, and they responded. "The checks came pouring in," he said. "It was just amazing."
For the 2012 marathon, DiSilvio hopes to raise $3,000. In his last three efforts combined, he estimates that he has raised about $18,000 for cancer research. He mails all donor checks directly to the American Cancer Society at the same time and then donors typically receive letters from that organization.
While DiSilvio is running in honor of his late mother and to help find a cure for cancer, he also described the positive feelings of seeing so many other runners in the marathon, there to represent their own causes and loved ones and to help raise money - directly and indirectly - for those causes.
"You're running with goosebumps the whole day, no matter how exhausted you get," said DiSilvio, who is the father of an 11 year old boy and 4 year old twins, a boy and a girl. He works as a software sales rep., coaches youth sports in town, and is also active at Parish. He and his wife have lived in Lynnfield since 1998.
For a man who's getting ready for his fourth marathon, DiSilvio downplays the idea that he trains intensively to get ready for the 26.2 mile run. Instead, he says it's something of the opposite. He runs about eight miles every other day and then does a 10-12 mile run on weekends. On the dietary end of the training routine, he does increase his carb intake as the marathon approaches, but otherwise does not have a particularly strict regimen. He recalls the experience from his initial outing, learning firsthand the importance of plenty of carbs and water and how the body breaks down in the second half of a marathon - and then gets even worse for the final third or so after Heartbreak Hill.
"Somehow that day, somehow I'm just out to get there - whether it takes all day, a few hours, I'm going to get there," said DiSilvio.
Editor's Note: If you are interested in helping Michael meet his fundraising goal, you can write out a check to the American Cancer Society and then mail it to 72 Pine Hill Road, Lynnfield, MA 01940.