Dash raises lots of dough in fight against rare childhood disease
There were doughboys, but it was really the dough to help two boys that brought the people out Sunday to Oakland Beach.
More than 350 braved a stiff offshore breeze to help Andrew Martin, 14, and Zach McMillan, 7, who are battling A-T – Ataxia-Telangiectasia.
People were decked out in a variety of colorful garb for the second annual Doughboy Dash – a heart-warming run, eat and run again event – that last year in its infancy raised $31,000.
Sunday, though, there were many more dollars raised than doughboys consumed, as participants completed each loop around the Warwick seaside village.
A total of 375 people registered for this year’s Doughboy Dash, 25 more than last year, and raised $42,145, and there’s still more on the way.
“Today was amazing!” exclaimed a near speechless Cathy Martin – Andrew’s mom – who organized what Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian and Cranston Mayor Allan Fung said was “an absolutely incredible love and desire to help Andrew and Zach.”
No one, though, was more thrilled than Martin, who – just minutes after the Dash – said: “Seeing the outpouring of support from the community and friends for Andrew and Zach, we know how blessed we are.”
Martin, who had a seemingly endless army of volunteers like Becky Henriques and Gwen Redmond – just to name a few – said: “All our sponsors are wonderful and have become great partners over the past two years; a very special thank you to Paul Masse Dealerships, G-Tech and Iggy’s Doughboy and Chowder House.”
Iggy’s, co-owned by David Gravino and his sister Maryann Soares, “has been incredibly supportive,” Martin wanted it known, while adding “they really go out of their way to help make the event a success. From the venue to the food to promoting the event, there is a genuine enthusiasm and desire to make the event a success from everyone on their team.”
“Team Andrew and Zach” had a seemingly unmatched total of volunteers.
Martin, who spent much of her pre-Dash time thanking everyone she came in contact with on the windblown shore at Oakland Beach, added, “The Warwick Police and Fire Departments have also been great supporters; both this year and last year.”
The Warwick Police Department, headed by Sgt. Earl Reed and motorcycle policeman Greg Johnson and John Larivee, made sure that all of the 375 runners and walkers were safe while making “the loop” around Oakland Beach.
And the Warwick Fire Department, Martin emphasized, “made the pre-Dash special by having many children aboard two WFD vehicles” that came up Oakland Beach Avenue with their sirens blasting to the cheers of dozens upon dozens of on-lookers.
When asked if she was surprised that this year’s fundraising total surpassed last year, Martin said, “I never thought we’d raise that much; not in a million years. The sponsors and people who came were very generous.”
Although this year’s Doughboy Dash had only 25 more participants, a total of 18 sponsors were more involved than last year and, as Martin noted, “We got larger donations; the community has just rallied around this event.”
So much so, in fact, Martin said, “I’m hoping this becomes a spring tradition.”
She announced that all proceeds go to the A-T Children’s project and “our event requested the funds be used to support the A-T Clinical Center located at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md.”
The clinic sees patients from all over the world. Doctors from the clinic work with local doctors to help with any questions or concerns they may have.
“Andrew has benefited greatly from the knowledge and relationships we have built with the doctors at the clinic over the years,” Martin explained. “It is priceless to our family, and my husband Tim and I know Andrew is healthier and has a far better quality of life as a direct result of their research and the doctors in the clinic.”
Ataxia-Telangiectasia, in laymen’s terms, Martin said, “is a rare generic disease affecting children combining the worst symptoms of cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, cancer and immune deficiencies. Usually by the age of 10, children are in a wheelchair; at age 11 or 12 they have feeding tubes.”
“Andrew has had a feeding tube since he was 9,” Martin said. “Zach does not, as yet, have one. Children with A-T have short life spans; one of the symptoms of A-T is fatigue; those kids have to work hard all day just to do the average things that a person doesn’t even think about.”
That’s why more than 700 people – and some big businesses in Rhode Island – have become staunch supporters of Andrew and Zach in hopes that they someday can defy all odds and live a normal life.
Martin said that money is still coming in and anyone who’d like to make a donation can call her at 965-0729 or by email at email@example.com.