Jamaica Plain resident Drew Breuninger decided to participate in the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk pin memory of his dear friend and roommate, Marcos Flegmann, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2017.
"We were roommates in August 2017, and I happened to be on vacation,” said Breuninger. "I remember Marcos texted me to say that he was moving out, but he wouldn't tell me why. He said that we could talk about it when I got back...I had no idea what I could have done to make him move out so unexpectedly.”
Finally, he was able to get Marcos to give him a call.
"I'll never forget when he told me. My jaw dropped. I felt numb. I asked why he didn't let me know when he found out. He replied, 'I wanted to let you enjoy your vacation.’ That's the type of guy Marcos was. He always thought of others before himself -- even during the hardest parts of his treatment, the lowest of lows. He never complained. He never wanted anyone to worry or to be a bother,” said Breuninger.
They met on the first day of school at Babson College where they played rugby together. They joined the same fraternity where Flegmann became Breuninger's “big brother,” a role he took seriously. Flegmann was an imposing figure at 6' 3” 250 pounds, but had a heard of gold.
"He was funny, kind, strong as an ox, successful, and an all-around awesome guy,” said Breuninger. "He lived life with a contagious smile, goofy laugh, and genuine kindness in his heart. He was a gem.”
After he was diagnosed with cancer in August 2017, Breuninger became involved with the Jimmy Fund Walk and is now the Team Captain of Viva La Marcos. They walked just one month after Marcos was diagnosed.
"I was just desperate to help him and do anything I could to try to help and show support,” said Breuninger. "I shaved my head and signed up to start raising money for the walk. We have done it ever year since.”
But on December 21, 2020, Flegmann lost his battle with cancer.
"I lost a best friend, a mentor, a brother...someone whose last request to me was to make him proud,” said Breuninger. "I have no idea how I'll live up to his legacy, but I'm going to try like hell.”
This year marks the team’s seventh year and they hope to reach $100,000 cumulatively raised. They only have $22,000 to go.
"Cancer sucks,” said Breuninger. "There’s no doubt about it. But it's about not letting the diagnosis dictate how you will live your life. Certainly there will be ups and downs, but it's about fighting like hell and bringing the battle to cancer -- mentally, physically, emotionally, etc. It's what Marcos did. He lived his life the best he could and didn't anything other than he was going to keep on moving. So, that's what we have to do as supporters - just keep on moving and try to help others overcome this larger battle with the disease."
The 2023 Jimmy Fund Walk will take place on Sunday, October 1, and raises funds to support all forms of adult and pediatric patient care and cancer research at the nation’s premier cancer center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Whether participating for themselves, loved ones, neighbors, or co-workers, each walker shares a common purpose: to defy cancer and support breakthroughs that will benefit cancer patients around the world.
Participants have the flexibility to choose from four distance options: 5K Walk (3.1 miles from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute), 10K Walk (6.2 miles from Newton), Half Marathon Walk (13.1 miles from Wellesley) or Marathon Walk (26.2 miles from Hopkinton). All four routes of the Jimmy Fund Walk end at the Finish Line Powered by Schneider Electric. Walkers can also participate virtually by “walking their way” from wherever they are most comfortable—whether that be in their neighborhood, on a favorite hiking trail, or on a treadmill at home.
The Jimmy Fund Walk has raised more than $167 million for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in its 34-year history. The 2023 Walk will be held during the Jimmy Fund’s 75th anniversary year and will aim to raise $9 million in the effort to prevent, treat, and defy cancer. To register for the Walk (#JimmyFundWalk) or to support a walker, visit www.JimmyFundWalk.org or call 866-531-9255.