At an early age a large part of my personal identity became associated with athletics. From youth sports to life as a Division I athlete, I enjoyed the physical and mental challenges that presented themselves on a consistent basis and was successful in large part due to the high level of support and guidance offered by my family. Through the course of my career I relied heavily on my parents and grandparents to be that constant presence I needed to overcome challenges on and off the field. Anybody I associated with athletically, from childhood through college, was familiar with these individuals and could assume their level of importance to me as a result of their consistent presence at games and other related events.
As the oldest grandson I felt a quiet responsibility to gain the approval and praise of my grandparents. I understood that their personal commitment to me could not be measured, nor could it be paid back on any scale, but that through hard work and with a great level of effort they could feel some level of reciprocation through my accomplishments.
My grandmother, Barbara Lovejoy, was an individual who was completely dedicated to her family, specifically her grandchildren. She put the needs of others before her own, but was by no means one to be taken lightly. Her brutally honest disposition and tendency to make known her strong opinions are characteristics that earned her an uncontested position as the leader of our family and helped to shape me into the man I am today.
As I was dealing with, and often complaining about, the physical challenges I had to endure as member of the men’s lacrosse team at Rutgers University my grandmother was quietly carrying the burden of dealing with something greater than I could ever imagine, yet her presence at home games and on road trips remained consistent. Her dedication and commitment to her family remained constant as well. During my sophomore year evidence of her battle became greater, yet remained undeclared. My grandmother shrugged off inquiries related to the noticeable and rapid appearance of weight loss she was experiencing. As a teenager at that time, I failed to read into her physical deterioration. For me, the greatest evidence of her struggle was the fact that she could no longer attend away games of great distances due to what she identified as a “high level of back pain.” Those closest to my grandmother knew she was not well but were hesitant to broach the issue as we knew it would be met with strong resistance and even stronger opinions.
Following the conclusion of my sophomore year of college the nature of her being had rapidly taken a turn for the worse and could not be ignored. In early June of 2003 our family sat down to offer my grandmother an ultimatum to seek medical attention immediately. After a lengthy period of prodding she finally relented. Upon doing so Barbara Lovejoy was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. She would continue to fight for the better part of the next two months but now with the support of her family, finally putting her own personal needs before those of others. An almost guaranteed life sentence, my grandmother lost her stubborn battle with Pancreatic Cancer at the age of 69 on July 21st, 2003 leaving a huge void in our family and in my life. She was stripped of the opportunity to see her grandchildren get married, enjoy her future great grandchildren and experience all of the wonderful things that life remained to offer.
July 21st, 2013 marked the 10 year anniversary of Barbara Lovejoy’s passing. In honor of my grandmother and close family friend Donna Asner who also lost her battle with Pancreatic Cancer, I have committed myself to participating in the 2013 New York City Marathon as a member of Project Purple in order to raise awareness for this cause . The goal is to generate as much funding as possible dedicated towards research for Pancreatic Cancer. Please do not feel obligated to contribute, but know that any and all contributions are received with a high level of appreciation and gratitude.
I wish you all good health and many thanks in advance for your support!
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