DERRY — It’s been more than 20 years since Dana Ball died, but his memory lives on in Derry. He also will be part of this year’s Boston Marathon.
Joanne Ott will run this year’s race in memory of her late husband, who died suddenly in September 1991, following a brief bout with acute mylaogenous leukemia.
“He was diagnosed at Parkland Medical Center on a Saturday morning, airlifted to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston that afternoon, and was declared brain dead on Monday, Sept. 30, 1991,” Ott said.
The 30-year-old Ball was active in Derry youth activities, local tennis tournaments and coaching. Only a week before his death, he and brother Darren won a doubles tennis tournament in Derry.
Ball’s swift death came as a shock to many who knew the man to be strong and healthy. He and his wife ran the Boston Marathon together n 1990.
Ott said this year’s event is special.
“It will be a wonderful walk, or run, down memory lane for me on April 21,” she said.
For Ott, now remarried and living in Colorado, running the 118th marathon on April 21 is a way to honor the memory of her late husband and raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as part of the Massachusetts Team in Training organization.
Ott said she wanted to get involved in the marathon again after the tragic events last year. She sent her story about Dana’s battle with leukemia in the hopes of being accepted on the Team in Training team.
“I am just thrilled to be able to do this marathon to help others who are affected by blood cancers much like Dana was,” Ott said.
The Ball family is a community fixture. Parks and programs are named in their honor and memory.
Dana Ball was a stellar athlete at Pinkerton Academy, playing many sports for many years, according to Pinkerton spokeswoman Anne Parker. Several Ball family members have been inducted into the Pinkerton Hall of Fame.