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Chris Benyo and Denise DiMarzo speak with a WCVB reporter after receiving a new Team Hoyt running chair for Denise in time for the 2016 Boston Marathon.
April 19, 2016

Newsmakers: UMass ALS Cellucci Fund duo complete 2016 Boston Marathon


  • Medical School
Six team members finish race to raise awareness, funds for research at UMMS

UMass ALS Cellucci Fund supporter Chris Benyo drew inspiration to finish the grueling 26.2 miles of the 2016 Boston Marathon from the woman seated in front of him for the route: his wife, Denise DiMarzo, who has ALS, according to Boston TV coverage of the couple’s notable feat.

“She was amazing; she’s my inspiration,” Benyo told New England Cable News reporter Alysha Palumbo after the duo completed race, with Benyo pushing DiMarzo in a custom wheelchair designed and manufactured by Team Hoyt. “One in 20,000 people survive with ALS and we’re in our fifth year. She is my wife, my inspiration.”

“It is something I can do to show others living with the disease to not give up your dreams, just keep setting personal goals,” DiMarzo told WCVB-TV’s Juli McDonald.

The UMass ALS Cellucci Fund was represented by six participants at the marathon, each finishing the race to raise awareness and funds for breakthrough amyotrophic lateral sclerosis research underway at UMass Medical School. The team included Jamie Miller, Sue Beaulieu, Kerri Floramo, Angela Mioglionico, DiMarzo and Benyo. This is the fifth year the Cellucci Fund has taken part in the John Hancock nonprofit marathon program. The Cellucci Fund marathon teams have raised more than $270,000, including nearly $46,000 this year, and donations continue to be accepted. 

The fund has generated $3.9 million since it was established in 2011 in honor of former Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci, who died from complications of ALS in 2013. The money raised goes to fund ALS breakthroughs happening across UMMS and in the laboratory of Robert H. Brown Jr., DPhil, MD, the Leo P. and Theresa M. LaChance Chair in Medical Research, chair and professor of neurology, Gov. Cellucci’s personal physician and one of the world’s leading ALS researchers. 

 “Nothing worth doing should be just a little tough. The marathon was tough on me today, but for me to deal with a rough five hours is nothing compared to what Denise deals with on a daily basis,” said Benyo, who has run a total of 45 marathons, including eight pushing his wife in a wheelchair. “She is a rock star.”

To learn more about the 2016 UMass ALS Cellucci Fund Boston Marathon team, visit the UMass ALS Cellucci Fund website