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Norfolk/Wrentham - Local Town Pages

Norfolk Resident to run Boston Marathon for ‘Cops for Kids with Cancer’ Part of Ironman Marathon Team

Detective Sergeant Timothy McDonagh, left, and Officer Justin LaRoche will run the Boston Marathon for the second year in a row to raise money for Cops for Kids with Cancer.

By Grace Allen
Tim McDonagh was working the Boston Marathon in October of 2021, one of thousands of police officers and other law enforcement professionals focused on security that day. The Norwood Police officer, a Norfolk resident, had recently started running to get in shape, and was inspired by the runners he saw, especially by fellow officers participating in the Marathon.
“I thought, ‘I think I can do this,’” said McDonagh, a detective sergeant. “’I want to try.’”
First, however, he had to get a charity bib. He decided the only organization he really wanted to run for was Cops for Kids with Cancer, a non-profit that provides financial support to families with children battling cancer. 
The competition for charity bibs can be fierce, but McDonagh finally managed to get on a waiting list for the organization.
“A couple of hours later I was sitting on the couch and a spot must’ve opened up somehow,” said McDonagh. “I got an email with the subject line, ‘You’re In!’ and I turned to my wife and said, ‘They’re letting me run!’ It was very exciting.”
And so in April of 2022, he ran his first Boston Marathon alongside fellow Norwood Police Officer Justin LaRoche. The two officers, running as part of the Massachusetts State Police Ironman Marathon Team, raised $13,000 for Cops for Kids with Cancer. The experience, said McDonagh, was amazing.
“All the officers along the route were cheering us on, and the crowds were incredible,” he recalled. “So many times we’ve all heard, ‘Right on Clarendon, left on Boylston,’ and it really is crazy when you’re actually running that stretch. You have nothing left but you’re running the fastest at that point. You cross the finish line and you see your wife and kids and you hug them.” He paused. “It’s literally the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m so thankful I could run on this team for this charity.”
On April 17, McDonagh and LaRoche will run the Boston Marathon for the second year in a row. Once again, they will run on the Ironman Marathon Team to raise money for Cops for Kids with Cancer, with the goal of raising $15,000 for the charity.
The Ironman Marathon Team is dedicated to the life of Mass. State Police Detective Lieutenant Billy “Ironman” Coulter, a longtime cancer survivor who finally succumbed to the disease in 2019. Coulter, who completed over 20 Ironman Triathlons and 150 marathons—including 36 consecutive Boston Marathons—was the chairman of Cops for Kids with Cancer at the time of his death. He was a legendary, inspirational member of the State Police, said McDonagh, noting Coulter once ran the Boston Marathon with a feeding tube and his oncologist running beside him. They stopped at every water stop so the doctor could inject water and Gatorade with a syringe into Coulter’s feeding tube so he could finish the race. 
Cops for Kids with Cancer has helped both Norwood and Norfolk families with children battling cancer, said McDonagh. Each family typically receives $5,000. Since its founding in 2002, the organization has given more than $4.75 million to 915 families.
McDonagh ran 4:49:11 in 2022 and says this year he’d like to get closer to 4 hours, noting he’s running faster than ever. But he keeps in mind an oft quoted saying of Billy Coulter’s: “It’s not about the finish time, it’s about the finish line.” 
A Norwood native, McDonagh attended St. Catherine of Sienna Catholic School, and then Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood, where he played lacrosse. He went on to Saint Anselm College for undergraduate studies, followed by Boston University for a master’s degree. After graduating from the police academy, McDonagh was in superb shape. But new work responsibilities and a young family took up more and more of his time, so regular exercise fell by the wayside.

 McDonagh with his wife Brittany, and children John and Abby, at the conclusion of last year’s Boston Marathon.

Now, at age 44, he credits Officer LaRoche, a life-long runner and Easton resident, for helping him navigate the Marathon’s training program and work through the inevitable injuries that come with age.
This year is the 10th anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing. McDonagh says this year, especially, the Marathon means a lot to law enforcement, and security will be stepped up. While he will no doubt be thinking of that day ten years ago as he runs this year, Cops for Kids with Cancer will also be top of mind.
“I’m so thankful they’re allowing me to run for them again,” said McDonagh. “My kids are healthy, thank God, but when you see pictures of some of these kids suffering with cancer, it breaks your heart. And that pushes you along.”
He added, “If we can raise $15,000, that’s three families we can help. I love running now, and I’m healthy enough to do this. And to be able to do this for this charity, well, it’s a win-win.”
To contribute to McDonagh and LaRoche’s fundraising efforts, visit At the top of the page, click on “Boston Marathon 2023” and search for either officer.