2009-09-10 / News

Hurteau runs for a cure in memory of island young people

By Eileen M. Daly

When former islander Linda Hurteau wanted to comfort friends who were enduring an excruciating loss – the illness and ultimate death of a child – she did the only thing she felt she could.

She ran.

This October, Hurteau will once again run to raise money to fight the illness that took the lives of her friends’ children. She will run in the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco, Calif. on Oct. 18 as a member of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training.

In fact, many people may remember Hurteau’s last marathon. Held in Alaska on June 27, 2007, Hurteau ran that race in honor of Payton Watson, who was diagnosed with leukemia in October of 2006.

Payton lost her fight with leukemia in October of 2008.

“I grew up in Jamestown and knew Payton’s parents. Her mom’s older sister and I grew up together and Payton was a classmate of my son Jarett at Hamilton Elementary School,” Hurteau said, referring to Payton’s parents, Sergeant Detective Frank Watson of the Jamestown Police Department and his wife, Liz Goode Watson.

Hurteau will run the Nike Marathon in memory of Payton Watson, as well as another friend of hers, Jeremy Minus, who also lost his fight with leukemia in January of this year. Jeremy was the 34-year-old son of Hurteau’s friends, Becky and Dave Minus.

“I grew up with Dave and went to school with Becky,” Hurteau said. “You just feel so helpless when these things happen. The only thing I could think of to do was to try and raise more money for research,” she said.

Hurteau said she began running seriously some 30 years ago after being inspired by one of her young patients.

“I was working as a physical therapist in the hospital and one of my patients was a 15-yearold boy with bone cancer who’d had his leg amputated,” she said. “Before that, I had been running a little bit, sort of starting and stopping, but working with him gave me that little push I needed. He had been running track at school before he lost his leg and he wanted to be running. It made me think to myself, I ought to run since I can run.”

At the time, she and a friend who lived in another state talked about training together to run in an upcoming marathon in Chicago to raise funds for the LLS. Although that didn’t come to pass due to her friend’s hip injury, Hurteau ran in a smaller race in Rhode Island that year. She went on to participate in her first marathon race 18 years ago and has run in nine marathons since then.

The Nike Women’s marathon will be her tenth.

Hurteau said she chose to run for the LLS because, “Leukemia is the number-one killer of children under 14, even though there is an 85 percent cure rate for the disease.”

According to the TNT website, during the last 20 years, the organization has grown into an unparalleled sports training program with more than 390,000 participants – from beginners to seasoned athletes. TNT supports athletes who participate in marathons, half-marathons, triathlons, 100-mile century bike rides and hiking adventures. This support includes certified coaches, who offer training, clinics and fundraising support, including personal websites for each individual athlete. TNT events are also held in destinations such as Hawaii, Alaska, Rocky Mountain National Park and the Grand Canyon.

Hurteau begins training for a marathon four to six months prior to the race date. She runs five days a week, with short runs of four to eight miles during the week and one long run of 18 to 20 miles on the weekend.

For this marathon, Hurteau joins other TNT members each Sunday to complete their weekly long run together.

“Every state has its own chapter. Our coach, Jim Doyle, who also coaches at Hendricken High School, provides us with weekly advice on things like our pace and how far we should be running,” she said. “It’s something you really have to love and want to do because it is very time consuming.”

So far, Hurteau has raised $2,400 of the $4,000 she needs to participate in the Nike Women’s Marathon. She’s not worried about meeting her fundraising goal, though, because “the money always comes in,” she said.

Hurteau asked that people consider making a donation – no matter how small.

“Your support is needed to cross the ultimate finish line — a cure,” she said.

Donations may be made by credit card at Hurteau’s fundraising website at http://pages. teamintraining.org/ri/nikesf09/ lhurteau. Checks made payable to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society may be mailed to Hurteau at 16 Collation Circle, North Kingstown, RI 02852.

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