Lending A Hand

“Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.” — Tony Robbins

Just more than a year ago, Jason Boutwell received the news. He suffered a ruptured appendix, and doctors discovered he also had cancer.

The necessary surgeries were daunting and afterward Jason planned to undergo chemotherapy. This wasn’t going to be an easy journey, even for someone with a big heart, unwavering humor and an undeniably radiant personality.

A public benefit on his behalf turned out hundreds, including autographed memorabilia from several North Dakota State University notable athletes — Brock Jensen, Billy Turner and Ben Woodside among them — and a personal video message from Coach Chris Kleiman for Jason, a former Bison football player. Numerous generous gifts were offered up for auction, including an amazing gift from Mark Knutson and the Fargo Marathon.

Early into his diagnosis, Jason had vowed to run the 2015 Fargo Marathon. This year’s marathon will mark a year since he underwent cancer treatments, and he will be running the half marathon.

Physically, Jason responded well to chemotherapy. Moved by the benefit on his behalf, he began seeking out other people’s benefits to attend. He shared encouragement, hope and words of support. And just after his final chemo treatment, Jason flew to New York City in support of my New York City Marathon effort.

As part of his half marathon this year, Jason is raising money for the Dakota Medical Foundation’s Lend-A-Hand program, a Fargo-based organization that provides funds for those facing medical emergencies.

To further the program and his attempt to give back, Jason has set up a Lend-A-Hand fundraising website. Nearly two dozen people have donated so far. In a personal statement to donors, Jason wrote: “Since my own benefit in 2014, I have attended many benefits that were at successful partially because of the guidance and matching funds from Lend -A-Hand. I was so impressed with Lend-A-Hand that I now serve as a LAH ambassador and proudly trumpet their cause.”

Jason is a terrific friend, and I’m proud to call him among my closest. It’s humbling and inspiring to know he understands and embraces the idea that running provides an avenue to help others. My personal donation wasn’t much, but if a lot of people give a little, the impact can be profound on the people who need our help. To visit Jason’s page to learn more about his endeavor, or make a donation, visit his Lend-A-Hand fundraising site.