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Jaywalking

Labor of love

Asked to describe his late mother, Jody Killeen, Sean Killeen didn’t need to think before speaking seven words.

“To know her, was to love her.”

Killeen contacted me last week to say he would be taking part in the Boston Marathon as part of the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge team. You may remember the Greenfield catcher from his time behind the plate for the high school and then the Trinity College baseball team that won the NCAA Division III national baseball title in 2008. Killeen went on to sign as an undrafted free agent with the Boston Red Sox and, after spending a year with the Lowell Spinners (short season, single-A), he moved on in life. He now lives in Quincy and is working as a logistics analyst for CH Robinson, a third-party logistics provider, working on-site at the Ocean Spray Headquarters in Middleboro.

Killeen said he began running about a year ago. Prior to that he can’t remember running more than five miles at any time. “I was a baseball player,” he said, “and you know how the old saying goes, ‘I’m a baseball player, not an athlete.’” He started running to stay in shape and it has slowly grown into a hobby. Killeen did a half-marathon last fall and decided he wanted to do the Boston Marathon.

“I wanted to run for a reason to keep me motivated and it was pretty easy to come up with a reason,” he said.

That reason came in the form of his mother, who battled cancer when Killeen was in college and passed away from the illness on Dec. 9, 2008. Killeen said there were multiple reasons he wanted to join the Dana Farber team, and all of them had to do with his mom. One of her favorite activities every year was taking part in the Relay for Life, where people come together to honor cancer survivors and remember those who no longer with us by walking all night.

Sean Killeen also traveled to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston with his mother on multiple occasions when she was undergoing chemotherapy, and he said that staff was unbelievable. Those two memories are what motivates him as he trains for the 26-mile run.

“I feel really, really strong about this,” Killeen said. “People who know me might not call me the most open person in the world, but it’s been difficult ever since she passed away, and this is a chance for me to make a difference. Millions of people have to deal with the same thing I have had to deal with.”

Killeen got in touch with the Dana Farber team because he said the company’s team is very well organized. To be a part of the team, Killeen had to fill out an application and was then selected based on his story and his fundraising goal. Initially, Killeen said he was hoping to raise $6,000, but when he managed to eclipse that mark, he now has $10,000 in his sights. To date, Killeen has raised $8,832.40 and he is asking for help to reach his goal.

Anyone wishing to donate can do so at www.runDFMC.org/2013/seank or send checks made out to Dana Farber Marathon Challenge to 10 Faxon Ave, Apt. 113, Quincy, MA 02169.

He is now just two weeks away from taking part in the marathon, and while he said he is ready, he admitted that the training hasn’t always been easy.

“The hardest thing has been getting out and running every single day,” he said. “It’s been so much training and running every day. But my family, friends and co-workers have been unbelievable; they’ve all been so supportive. And my mom was so amazing, everyone who knew her has been very supportive too.”

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I just got done writing my stories for the spring preview and the question I continually have been asked is, “Who is going to win the Hampshire League this season?”

This year is shaping up to be another terrific spring in the league, with Greenfield, Frontier, Turners Falls and Athol looking like the top four. But don’t count out Hopkins Academy, either, a young team that could be on the rise. Mahar Regional School also has a lot of young talent, while Mohawk, Easthampton and Pioneer are potential dark horses. I may get called a homer in this, and Tom Suchanek is going to kill me for jinxing him, but I’ll take Greenfield to win the regular season, just ahead of Frontier. Greenfield has two top pitchers in Mike Duclos and Garrett Hudson, and one of, if not the best players in the league in Zach Bartak. Additionally, the Green Wave struggled to score last season but many of the players are back and should see more production on offense.

My crystal ball has five teams making the postseason, with Hopkins joining the top four teams, and Mohawk finishing in sixth place, just missing the WMass tourney.

Jason Butynski is a Greenfield native and Recorder sportswriter. His email address is jbutynski@recorder.com.

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