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Running Strong

Running StrongMembers of the dental school community continue an annual tradition that not only raises money for cancer research but also fosters community spirit.

Boston [09.25.09] Tufts School of Dental Medicine students are getting a running start to their semester, pulling together their annual team for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, held in Boston on Sept. 26.

Started in 2001 by former admissions office staff member Katherine Wasilenko, the team-which has grown to more than 60 participants-is now completely student-run and viewed as a meet-and-greet opportunity for incoming students.

2007 Captains - Samir Patel D'10, Lisa Higgs D'10, Michael Butera D'10
(not pictured: Liz Turner D'11)

"Being in my fourth year and working primarily on clinical and patient work, it's not often that my path would cross with a first year student who is still doing class and book work," says Samir Patel (D'10), one of the team's three captains. "It is a great opportunity to meet your classmates, who will soon also be your colleagues in the field."

"I remember my first year I was studying for anatomy and I had all the ligaments and the muscles of the arm drawn out on my arm and I still managed to come out," adds co-captain Elizabeth Turner (D'11). "Hopefully we can inspire some of the first-year students going through anatomy to come out as well."

Comprised of predoctoral, postdoctoral, faculty, staff and friends, the team has raised more than $10,000 in the past three years toward cancer research and has also proven themselves as strong competitors.

"More often than not, we usually have at least three members in the top 20," Patel says."It's pretty remarkable considering there are over 6,500 runners overall participating in the Massachusetts race."


"It is really great to have the support of the faculty as well," Turner says. "Dr. Sheldon Sullaway (D'62) is a frequent participant, and actually came in third in his age bracket last year. [Associate Dean of Admissions] Mark Gonthier is a frequent participant, as well."

While the Komen race was originally chosen due to its popularity and close proximity to the beginning of the school year, Turner says the group has future plans to branch out to other races, including the possibility of a walk for oral pathology.

"We would really like to pull together runners for the President's Marathon Challenge in the spring, so I think the Komen race is a good kick start to training for that," she says.

After the race is complete, Patel says many of the team members go out to brunch together to continue getting to know one another.

2008 Team Picture

"It is really great because when I'm walking around the clinic, I see a number of familiar faces and say 'Hey, you doing the race again this year?'" Patel says. "I have met so many people that I would not have otherwise met."

"I think it is a really meaningful experience," Turner says. "We are out there for a good cause and the large group we are able to round up is inspiring, knowing the more we can do to help with any of the different health related fundraisers, the better."

Story by Kaitlin Provencher, Web Communications.

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