On Sunday, June 20, hundreds of fathers, including Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers, celebrated Father’s Day with a walk to fight cancer.
The fourth annual Boston Prostate Cancer Walk, the largest in New England, drew prostate cancer survivors of all ages, their wives, children, and friends to a sunny quad on Boston Common. Nearly 3,500 from the Greater Boston area turned out to raise funds for prostate cancer research, to walk in the memory of a loved one or celebrate successful treatment, and raise awareness of a disease that kills more than 30,000 men each year.
Event organizers and Summers welcomed the group before the walk began. “I take great pride as president of Harvard, and as a resident of this area, in the fact that the single greatest cluster of contribution to this revolution in the lives of men and women across the world is going to take place right here,” said Summers referring to the thousands of researchers in the Boston area that are working to understand and combat cancer.
“And that’s why we in this area, those of us who are part of the Harvard community, have a special obligation and a special connection with the remarkable efforts that we are supporting today. Yes, this will make a difference.”
When the walk got under way, a sea of people clad in white and green T-shirts stretched from Boylston to Beacon Streets led by event organizers and Summers carrying the Prostate Cancer Walk banner. Walkers, including Summers’ children, kept up with a vigorous pace as the line looped around the Common for 3.1 miles.
As Summers noted, within a five-mile radius of the Boston Common sits a hotbed of medical and life science research. There, thousands of scientists are working to understand cells, the way bodies work, and how to intervene and stop disease, leading to the systematic attack of these diseases. Funds generated by the Prostate Cancer Walk, totaling nearly $425,000 over the past three years, are awarded annually to new investigators, supporting up to 10 prostate cancer research projects each year.
“This walk sends a message of hope to Boston and the community,” said Stan Klein, event co-chair and 11-year prostate cancer survivor who has seen the number of annual deaths by prostate cancer drop by nearly 10,000 in the last decade. “By raising awareness and funds for research we are helping to be part of the solution that is saving lives.”
“Fathers will know their grandchildren who otherwise would never have known their grandchildren because of the research that we are supporting today,” said Summers, who noted that he too was a survivor of another form of cancer. “That is making a difference.”