Deputy Police Chief to run Boston Marathon for Charity
By Grace Allen
On October 11, George Labonte will participate in the 125th running of the Boston Marathon. That isn’t the only challenge facing Labonte, who is Wrentham’s Deputy Police Chief. He is also battling medullary thyroid carcinoma, a rare and incurable cancer.
Labonte is being treated at Massachusetts General Hospital and is running to raise money for the hospital’s pediatric cancer program.
“It breaks my heart to think of kids going through cancer treatment,” said the 41-year-old father of four. “I’ve had surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy and I can’t even imagine a child feeling as bad as I’ve felt.”
Labonte was diagnosed five years ago. In March of 2019, his health took a turn for the worse and he was placed on the then-experimental drug Retevmo (selpercatinib, formerly known as LOXO-292), and immediately started feeling better. He’s had no adverse side effects from the drug.
The Wrentham native has always tried to stay active, but admits he was never really a dedicated runner. He played baseball and soccer at King Philip High School and ran sporadically while attending Salem State University and then Roger Williams University for graduate school. But in August of 2019, he found himself waking up at 4 a.m., worrying, and had trouble falling back asleep.
“I said to myself, I have to do something. I’m just going to get out there and start running,” recounted Labonte. “And it stuck this time. So I decided if I could run a half-marathon on my own by October, I’d sign up for the marathon.”
While Labonte kept his promise and signed up for the April 2020 marathon, the race was postponed to September that year because of the pandemic and then went virtual as the virus spread. Labonte ran the virtual race but set his sights on this year’s marathon too.
“My goal is to break four hours this time, get into the threes. I don’t think I’m going to win it,” he laughed.
Labonte says running has become a way to clear his head as well as a way to maintain his health. “It’s kind of like my green light. I’m away from work, away from the kids. I can just let my mind wander and think.”
Along with his wife, Labonte has become a vegetarian, and hopes to instill healthy habits in his children, who are excited to see their father race.
“They’re proud of me,” he said. “I try to be a good role model. They play sports and I want them to keep focused on eating well and staying fit as best they can.”
This year’s marathon, although smaller than usual, will likely provide runners with plenty of motivation to power through to the end. There will be spectators cheering and fellow runners providing support. And while the experience will surely be more positive than last year’s virtual race, Labonte has already set the bar pretty high for what he can accomplish. Whether his path is lined with fans or not, he has proven that determination, tenacity and first-rate care can help you get through almost anything.
To contribute to Labonte’s fundraising efforts for Mass General, visit www.givengain.com and search for George Labonte.