Mile 17 Has Special Meaning for Fred’s Team

Every year during the New York City Marathon a crowd gathers outside of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center on the Upper East Side of New York to cheer on runners in orange jerseys. Orange is the color of Fred’s Team, the athletic fundraising program of the hospital that has raised $4.4 million this year toward cancer research.

“I’ve raised more than $30,000 on my own so that hopefully one day no more sisters are left out of the race,” said Jen Jacob, a 28-year-old actor who has run with Fred’s team for six years in honor of her sister who passed away from cancer. “I really do believe that, I feel like I’m raising money for the sisters of the world,” said Jacob.

In this Nov. 5, 2017, photo, Fred’s Team runner Britain Seibert hugs a friend from school who came to see her by mile 25 on Central South Park South. (Photo by Christina Cardona)


Jacob is one of 875 Fred’s Team runners that participated in the marathon this year. Each runner had to raise a minimum of $3,500.

Fred’s Team was named after Fred Lebow, a co-founder of the marathon. In 1990, he was diagnosed with brain cancer; he dead in 1994. The following year, Fred’s Team was created in his honor. The team has raised over $74 million since it started.

Raising money for charity is one of several ways for participants to gain entry into the New York City Marathon.

When registering with Fred’s Team, runners can designate the money they raise to a certain type of cancer. This includes brain cancer, lymphoma and melanoma, as well as more than 50 others.

Britian Seibert, 27, is a graduate student and a first time Fred’s Team runner. She tried her luck at the marathon lottery, but was not chosen. Her friend told her about the charity option and Seibert knew she wanted to raise money for cancer.

“My family has been severely affected by breast cancer. I’ve lost my grandmother, I’ve had a couple of aunts, a couple of cousins, family friends who have either been directly affected or indirectly by it,” Seibert said.

In this Nov. 5, 2017, photo, first-time marathon runner Britain Seibert blows a kiss to friends cheering her on by Central Park South. (Photo by Christina Cardona)

Jeff Rochford, 56, is one of five coaches for Fred’s Team. He was a runner for the charity at first, then became a volunteer coach 15 years ago. He said he decided on this cause because of his uncle, who had been treated at Sloan Kettering.

“It’s especially emotional, half the kids from the pediatric ward is out there cheering us on, it’s incredible,”  said Rochford in reference to 17-mile marker of the marathon right outside the cancer center. “I’ve seen the toughest guys break down and cry at that point.”

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