I qualified for the 2005 Boston Marathon and one month before running it, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at age 42. I decided that there was a way that we could use the race as a fundraiser for Parkinson’s. Our fundraising slogan was, “26 miles for Boston––one cure for Parkinson’s.” The story took off and the support went way beyond anything I could have imagined.
The Boston Marathon starts in a tiny town called Hopkinton, which is 26 miles outside of Boston. Twenty thousand people qualified for it, so we had to be bussed into the area where the race starts, because it was so crowded. It was beautiful, sunny and 70 degrees on the day of the race. We
were there about two hours before the race, and people were eating, drinking fluids, massaging, and warming up while bands were playing. Each racer wears a bib that has a number on it denoting where they start the race––faster qualifying times start at the front. My sister and I were in the middle in a corral with others who had qualified with the same times. When the starting gun went off, it took us something like five or ten minutes just to get to the starting
The race was run on Patriots Day which, in 2005, occurred on April 18. We were running over hill and dale and on all
kinds of country roads from small town to small town.
Patriots Day is a holiday in the state of Massachusetts, so there were a lot of people sitting on lawn chairs and having
picnics. It was a big event, and the route was crammed with thousands of people, sometimes three or four rows deep, partying, watching and cheering, and passing you juices and drinks. I saw families, motorcycle gangs and, when we went by fire stations, they even had the hoses out to cool things
off. We ran by a college and girls from the dorm rooms were all hanging on the gates cheering and high-fiving the
runners. If a runner couldn’t manage the race physically, they would still get pulled along just from the energy of
the crowd. I felt like I was running on clouds.
My sister and we soaked it up and enjoyed the moment. We didn’t beat ourselves up for a best time and we took disposable cameras and took pictures.
I completed the race and we ended up raising in excess of $36,000 for Parkinson’s research.
Bio: Shelby Hayter is very active in many ways helping to increase awareness of Parkinson’s disease and to raise funds to help find a cure.