By Julie Huss
---- — LONDONDERRY — A local runner will once again head to the finish line to support those affected by cancer.
Mark Sullivan will participate in the 118th Boston Marathon April 21.
After the tragic bombings at the finish line at last year’s marathon, Sullivan said he felt a need to return this year to continue his quest to raise money to support the South Shore Hospital’s Cancer Care Team.
The 40-year-old grew up in the Rockland, Mass., area, but has lived in this area for 14 years. This will be his fifth Boston Marathon.
He will run as part of a South Shore Hospital Team and this year runs in memory of the wife of a colleague who lost her cancer battle last year, Joanie Meallo, and also in memory of a friend and coworker.
Last year’s race is still on his mind.
Sullivan finished the marathon about 20 minutes before the first bomb exploded near the finish line.
“That’s the last thing you expect on a day like that,” he said. “It’s a big family day, people go to the Red Sox game and it was a sunny day.”
When tragedy struck, details were scarce at first.
“Fortunately, I had finished the race,” Sullivan said, “but I was only about 500 yards away, a couple of streets off Boylston.”
He said he heard a bang, but didn’t think much of it at the time.
“It sounded like a building demolition,” he said. “The second one followed and I still didn’t put too much to it.”
It wasn’t until later that he realized something serious had happened just by the way people were reacting around him and the fact he had no cell phone service and couldn’t contact his family.
“It started to sink in that something was wrong,” Sullivan said.
He left the city quickly once he connected with his father and uncle who had come to cheer him on.
This year’s race means a lot.
“It’s special and unique for me in many ways,” Sullivan said. “I want to personally honor all the victims who lost their lives, as well as those injured.”
Sullivan met several bombing survivors last summer and said he was inspired by them. His team running for the South Shore Hospital had some members last year who were not able to finish the race. Sullivan wants to honor them this year and make another successful showing to raise money for cancer patients. His goal is to raise $7,500.
He said this year’s race will be inspirational and important on many levels and he is happy to be part of it. He will wear a special pin in memory of Meallo as he runs the race.
“I’m so inspired to run in memory of her and will be keeping her legacy close at heart,” he said.
To learn more about Sullivan’s marathon mission, visit crowdrise.com/SouthShore2014BostonMarathon/fundraiser/marksullivan.