If you want to understand dedication, all you have to do is look at Team Connecticut Children’s, the 230 people who shrugged off rain, cold and exhaustion to run in this year’s Eversource Hartford Marathon on October 13 in support of Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. The size of the team broke records this year, and the dollars they raised reflect that, coming in just under $100,000.
Much of that impressive total came from various subteams within Team Connecticut Children’s. For example, the team called Go for Gabs raised $15,970 that they earmarked for the Hematology/Oncology Division. And those team totals provide context for Greg Hammond’s achievement: He raised $13,534 all by himself. That was enough to qualify him for the David Polk Perpetual Award, named after the founding board member of the Hartford Marathon Foundation and given each year to the person who raises the most money at the marathon.
“I’ve been participating in the half marathon on the Connecticut Children’s Team for seven years,” Hammond says. “My first year was as a volunteer, but when I saw the energy and enthusiasm at the race, I decided to run in it the next year. It inspired me to stay in shape and get up and get going every day.”
He says that he was pleasantly surprised by the award, but “I don’t run to get awards; I run to support the kids. When you hit a wall around 10 miles, thinking of the kids you’re helping gives you the inspiration to keep going to the finish line.”
Anthony’s Cancer Journey
Hammond might well have been thinking of a kid like Anthony Reynoso, a bright, happy teenager who has been battling brain tumors for the past seven years. “It started back in 2011,” says his mother, Jennifer Alvelo. “Anthony was at school, and then they sent him home because he was vomiting.” That went on for five more days and followed by a sensitivity to light.
“I took him in to the doctor’s office,” Jennifer says, “and they saw that he wouldn’t open his eyes when the light was on, and that caught their attention a lot. They did a CT scan, and that’s when they saw he had a mass in his head; it was ependymoma. I went crazy—I was crying, I didn’t know what to do or what was going to happen. He had a 14-hour surgery to remove the mass, and it was a long recovery. He lost the hearing in his left ear, he needed help with eating. Then they did radiation over 30 days.”
The tumor seemed to be beaten, but then a year-and-a-half later there was another tumor, more surgery and more radiation. That led to four years tumor-free. But then, in 2017, a tumor reappeared. He had more surgery, but he’s had the maximum amount of radiation already, so that is no longer an option, and ependymoma does not respond well to standard chemotherapy.
That left few options for treatment, but his oncologist, Eileen Gillan, MD, has been conducting research into new drug treatments. She found a drug protocol that was being used for a different type of cancer but which appeared to have the qualities to be effective against ependymoma. This drug protocol doesn’t attack the tumor directly but rather affects the blood vessels that feed it. Dr. Gillan started Anthony and four other patients on this protocol, and so far, it appears to be working. In fact, other children’s hospitals are now using it on their patients. That’s the kind of result that motivates all the runners, including Greg Hammond.
More than Marathons
Greg’s generosity does not stop with the half marathon. His company, Hammond Iles Wealth Advisors, has identified Connecticut Children’s as their charity of choice, not only in terms of their own donations but also in terms of encouraging their clients to donate to the hospital by matching their donations dollar for dollar. The company has offices in Wethersfield, Old Lyme and Woodbridge as well as offices in Reston, Virginia and South Burlington, Vermont.
“We believe investing is about so much more than money,” Hammond says. “We coach our clients to discover their true purpose for money. We encourage them to think about what they want to achieve in life—what’s important to them. Because knowing what matters to them, and what their happiness and satisfaction look like, helps create clear paths to living it.
Our clients’ ‘why’ determines how we invest their money, and the level of strategic planning they need. One of my favorite things to do is accompany clients when they make a gift to charity. A long-time client’s wife recently passed away from lung cancer. We designed a plan that empowered him to make donations that support lung cancer research, while increasing the legacy he is building for his family. It’s work like this that inspires new possibilities, and builds a future around what’s really important. And that’s at the very core of our purpose at Hammond Iles.”
It is in the spirit that Hammond Iles has made a series of very generous donations to Connecticut Children’s, including, most recently, a gift to support the new Infusion and Dialysis centers. Altogether, Hammond Iles has contributed more than $130,000 since they began supporting Connecticut Children’s.
And next year, no matter what the weather, Greg will be back out on the 13.1 mile half marathon route, running for kids like Anthony.