It Began with Uncle Kevin

Samantha Simmons grew up in Brookline, MA with her parents and younger sister, Marissa. She played soccer, lacrosse and ran indoor track while growing up and throughout high school. And like a lot of American kids, she experienced some soccer burnout, so in college, she traded in her soccer jersey for a ‘show’ jacket and rode for the Trinity College Equestrian Team.

It never mattered what sport she was playing and it doesn’t matter now, Samantha just loves being an athlete. Sure, it’s about the training, the hard work and the dedication but for Samantha, it’s the commitment that she can make to others that moves her most. Whether it was her teammates or yes, her horse, she felt a strong bond to each of them. And to this day, that sense of commitment lives very deep in her.

In 2014 her Uncle Kevin was diagnosed with stage-four melanoma and although his immediate outlook seemed hopeless, the brilliant care of the Dana Farber Institute team helped him live much longer than expected. It was at that moment that Samantha’s athletic career changed. She became a marathoner. She ran Boston for the very first time as a charity runner with the Melanoma Foundation of New England, a small team of great people and a wonderful organization. She ran it for Kevin.

Samantha continues to run today for cancer research and as a commitment to others. It’s their strength that inspires her. She often runs with her best friend Katy and the two of them are driven to run for their friend Claire, a breast cancer survivor; she runs for her friend Ashley’s mom; she runs for Ashley too, who is a cancer survivor herself; and this year Samantha ran Boston again in honor of a close friend’s father who’s battling pancreatic cancer.

Today, Samantha runs for the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge team. They’re a team of 500 runners who believe, “we’re racing towards the ultimate finish line: a world without cancer.” Every day she’s motivated by each of them, especially, Ashley, Jordan, Ben, Scott, John, Lindsey and, of course, Katy. They’re some of her closest friends now and she feeds off of their unwavering willingness to put in the training and the miles, especially on those bleak, miserable January mornings that a Boston winter throws at them.

Samantha is studying for her MBA at Boston University and this summer she’s working in San Francisco as an intern at DroneDeploy, a tech firm building cloud-based software for drone mapping. Her future athletic goal is to someday complete the six Abbott World Marathon Majors.

Each time Samantha steps to a start line she pledges her allegiance and love to Uncle Kevin; to Katy; to Ashley and her mom, and to every other friend, person and family battling cancer. Samantha has always been an athlete and now she’s a marathoner. We know for certain that she’s committed to doing her part to help make this a world without cancer. And we know it began with him.  It began with Uncle Kevin.