DOVER, N.H. — My mother, Jennifer Sprague, is running her second Boston Marathon this year. She ran her first Boston Marathon in 2015 and finished in a time of 3 hours and 34 minutes. That time was good enough to qualify her to run the 2016 Boston Marathon. Anyone who runs a marathon knows what an amazing accomplishment it is, especially in New England: Training from December to April; Running in the rain, sleet, ice, snow and wind; Running 30-40 miles a week; Never giving up and never giving in; and all while being the best mother a daughter could ever have.
With all that being said, this marathon means more to her than any other race in her lifetime. On April 18 of this year, my mother is running the Boston Marathon in memory of her mother, my grandma Terri, who lost her battle to cancer 20 years ago almost to the day. My mother is 42 which is the same age that my grandma Terri was when she lost her battle to cancer on April 16, 1996.
I never actually met my grandma Terri, but my mother has told me so much about her that I feel like I knew her my entire life. It all started that one day when grandma Terri was 35 and she was given news that would change the family forever. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer and the outlook was not good. After the initial shock, the family pulled together to support my grandma. My mother was 15-years-old at the time with a younger sister and two younger brothers.
As my grandma continued to get sicker and sicker, my mother continued taking on all of the responsibilities that her mother could no longer do. As a teenager, my mother was going to school, playing sports, doing the shopping, making meals, doing laundry, cleaning the house and trying to make sure that her family had all of the things they needed. Even when my mother went to college in Boston, she would come home often to do the shopping, laundry, cleaning, and make sure that her family members had everything they needed.
Grampy tells me that ever since grandma Terri passed away, my mother has been the mother figure of the family. She took it upon herself to be the rock for the family. That is what grandma Terri would want her to do. She has worked hard to make sure that her family did not miss out on anything just because Grandma Terri is gone.
When I ask my mother why she runs, her response is simple, "because I can and this is one way that I can increase my chances of avoiding cancer." She eats healthy, exercises and takes care of her body as a way to control her own destiny. Each and every day she thinks of her mother and it scares her to know that she is now the same age of her mother when she passed.
Now I am the same age as my mother was when she found out that my grandma Terri had cancer. I am so impressed with my mother. I cannot imagine going through all that she has been through.
I know that I speak for our entire family, including grandma Terri, when we say how proud we are of you mommy! Keep running!
NOTES >> Jennifer (Mayotte) Sprague graduated from Brattleboro Union High School in 1992 and graduated from Lesley College in 1996 with a degree in Early Childhood Education. She has lived in Dover, N.H. for almost 20 years with her husband Kevin (also a 1992 BUHS grad), oldest daughter Taylor (freshman at Dover High School), daughter Emma (6th grader at Dover Middle School) and son Connor (1st grader at Garrison Elementary School). Jennifer is a Pre-K teacher at St. Mary's Academy in Dover, N.H. and is an avid runner who has competed in close to 100 races over the past years. She has recently competed in the Dover Race Series, finishing as the top woman overall in 2014.