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Thousands Participate In Virtual Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk

BOSTON (CBS) -- About 7,000 people put on a comfortable pair of sneakers Sunday morning to walk their neighborhood streets or a favorite trail for a very important cause.

It's another pandemic-modified version of the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk. The goal is to raise money for cancer research and patient care.

Among them was Sandra Broome, of Fall River, who is a breast cancer patient. She walked with her husband, son, and team at Castle Island in South Boston.

She said her way to deal with cancer is to stay positive.

"It's horrible when you get diagnosed with a cancer, it knocks you down, you just want to fall on the ground and quit, but I've learned at Dana Farber to fight cancer with laughter and I have the best family and friends and team around me to pull through," said Broome.

Denise Lydon and her kids planned to walk along the Cape Cod Canal Sunday in honor of her husband Joe, who died of colon cancer.

"Now that Joe can't walk, others can't walk, that we're charged to walk for them," said Lydon.

They're raising money for people at Dana-Farber, who became part of the family during Joe's 18 months of treatment.

"Everybody made you feel like you were the only patient there, you were the only family there."

Several walkers shared their motivations with WBZ-TV. They hoped their collective efforts would help raise $6.5 million, even during a year they can't be on the Marathon route itself, where 33 previous years have raised $155 million.

Ali Hanlon got a jump on things by strolling a stretch of the Charles River Saturday.

"I walk in the memory of my grandfather, who was diagnosed with lymphoma when I was a sophomore in college," said Hanlon.

Indeed, it was that grandfather who inspired her to become a cancer researcher. It's a skill she now extends to all rare diseases, as she raises money to help Dana-Farber.

"I really enjoy their mission of supporting both patient care and research," said Hanlon.

Jimmy Fund

Betsy Ryer is a "Practice Coordinator" at Dana-Farber. She also coordinated a team walked through Milton and Hopedale Sunday.

She lost her dad to cancer, and her brother just finished treatment.

"I see our patients every single day living with cancer, more importantly than anything, living," Ryer said.

Erin Thomas planned to walk in Arlington on Sunday. She's been cancer-free for five years after being diagnosed with Stage 4 rectal cancer in 2015.

"So I walk primarily to give back to Dana-Farber. They got me through this," Thomas said.

On Saturday, quite a few places around the city lit up in red and yellow to show support for the "Jimmy Fund Walkers", including Boston City Hall, Boylston Plaza, Atlantic Wharf, and the Zakim Bridge.

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