WALDOBORO — Pete Crooker just had to make a donation on Sunday. He stopped his car and walked up to runner Tim Furrow, the Brewer history teacher who is making a 255-mile “Run for Research” from Boston to Bangor to dramatize the need for cancer research. Crooker, a teacher from Rochester, N.Y., saw Furrow on a Portland television station and just had to stop.
Crooker gave Furrow five $1 bills and started to walk away, then came back. “I knew he had a story,” Furrow said later. “They all have stories.”
Crooker explained that he made a donation in the name of a student who found a tumor in his chest last year.
In his run from the Dana-Farber Institute to the Eastern Maine Medical Center, Furrow has heard a lot of stories of the impact of cancer, the dreaded and hated disease that seems to touch everyone’s family.
It touched Furrow’s life in 1990 when doctors discovered a lymphoma, traced back to exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. When treatment placed the cancer in remission, the Brewer teacher, coach and referee decided to celebrate.
“I will never be a doctor or a research scientist, but I had to give something back” to the doctors and nurses who treated him so well, he said Sunday. As he recovered, he started shuffling from one telephone pole to the next. He started jogging and gradually increased the distance.
Then the crazy idea started to hatch. If he could run 10 miles a day, he could run the 255 miles from the Dana Farber Institute in Boston to his “home hospital,” Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. The run could raise funds for the Jimmy Fund and breast cancer research while dramatizing the need for more research.
But his occupation as a teacher kept him working in the cool months of April, May and June, then put him on the Route 1 in unusually hot weather.
Furrow left the Farber Institute near Fenway Park on June 24 and somehow survived the murderous Boston traffic. Since then, he has been making 10 miles a day, followed by a white support van driven by volunteer Claudia Harvey. On Sunday, Furrow’s 47-year-old body was starting to wear down, with the heat pushing 80 degrees. The hamstrings were telling him no, with 75 miles to go.
The goal is to raise $25,000. But it is hard to put a dollar figure on the people Furrow has touched along the way, like Crooker and the people who blow their horns on Route 1. At coffee shops, restaurants and motels, they all seem to have a cancer story, Furrow said.
The worst part has been the heat, humidity and ozone, Furrow said. Other than the aching hamstring and a small blister, his body has held up well. Obviously, it would have been better to do it a few months earlier. He planned to ice the leg and keep to the schedule that will bring him to:
Thomaston town line to the Family Bowling Center in Rockland on July 19.
Down East Magazine in Rockport and Camden Hills State Park in Camden on July 20.
Lincolnville Beach on July 22.
Perry’s Nut House in Belfast on July 23.
Searsport and Stockton Springs on July 24
Winterport Legion on July 26
Hampden Academy on July 27
EMMC on July 28.
With 75 miles left to go on Sunday, Furrow admitted the labor was becoming “grueling and tiresome.” He asked that people along his route come out to wave and lend a little encouragement.
He will need all the help he can get.