Steps in the Right Direction

By Leslie Young
[Editor's Note]

Some 27,000 runners will take to the streets of Boston on April 15, 2013, for the world’s oldest annual marathon. Three of them will run for the joy of the sport and to benefit the Massage Therapy Foundation (MTF). As an MTF trustee and the development chair, this delights me to no end! I’m also thrilled that one of these runners is ABMP President Les Sweeney. Starting from track-team exploits in his freshman year of high school (ahem, just a few years ago), he dreamt of running the Boston Marathon, so this year the dream comes true. The trotting trio also includes one of our top Massage & Bodywork partners, Tom Heidenberger (president and owner of Bon Vital), and New Jersey MT Kathy Borsuk. 

Each year, marathon sponsor John Hancock fields hundreds of applications from charities and then awards runners’ bibs to 100-plus entities it deems worthy. The fact that the massage therapy profession can take its place in the Boston Marathon spotlight for the first time is possible primarily thanks to MT Mary White, who’s been massaging the race’s elite athletes since 1996. White lobbied the marathon sponsor and was successful in getting three of the charity bibs assigned to the MTF. 

White simply gushes with excitement when describing the value of the massage profession having a profile at this national event. “To be a part of a team that is so respected in a profession that has had its struggles earning respect means the world to me,” White says.

“When we look at the work the Massage Therapy Foundation does on its current budget in the line of research, community service grants, and education, it is only fitting that we join those other organizations in receiving bibs to raise money for all its efforts.”

In 2012, nonprofit runners raised a record $6.8 million for 122 causes through the John Hancock program. Each runner agrees to raise at least $5,000 donated to their run in honor of their charity. In what’s billed as the most prestigious and competitive marathon in the world, this is the only way to earn entry without qualifying. (As Les said, “Help the MTF and get into Boston? Sign me up!”) 

If each one of the estimated 320,000 MTs in the United States would donate one dollar, the MTF could blow the roof off its $30,000 goal and work to ensure it receives MTF charity bibs at the Boston Marathon for years to come. Please join me in supporting the MTF by making a donation to Les and the rest of the Running for Research team at

Leslie A. Young, Editor in Chief

To read this article in our digital issue, click here.