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Jim Fennell's 'Just Checking In' : Resilient teacher has 'em running to her support

New Hampshire Union Leader
May 26. 2012 10:11PM
Purple Ribbon Mother's Day Run founder Michelle Cadorette poses with some of the event's most loyal supporters. From left: Gay Longnecker, Cadorette, Michael Rosovsky, Ella Rosovsky (245), Abby Rosovsky, Rachel Rosovsky and Lily Woo. (COURTESY)
The held a block party in Bow and called it a road race. Really, that's what happened two weeks ago at the Purple Ribbon Mother's Day Run.

As far as competitive road races go, this one was nothing more than a footnote, a blip on the radar screen. A little more than 250 runners and walkers took part. On the surface, it was a nice little event.

But this wasn't about running. It was about hope and the spirit that burns bright in some people and how that spirit inspires others.

This is about people like Michelle Cadorette.

We first checked in on Cadorette a couple of years ago when she was she was honored at the One Hundred Dinner, the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center's annual fundraiser and awards night that honors 100 people or groups who have helped advance the fight against cancer.

Cadorette was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called thymoma more than 10 years ago. It has been a non-stop battle, but she has never let it beat her, never let it get her down. She has been going through blood transfusions lately and will be headed back to the hospital for a procedure this summer.

'I should be good for another 10,000 miles after that,' Cadorette said.

It's good to have a sense of humor.

Cadorette, a teacher at Bow High School, started a fund at Mass. General called the Michelle Cadorette Malignant Thymoma Fund (thymomahope.org), which has raised more than $100,000. The latest donations came through the Purple Ribbon Mother's Day Run.

The run has taken place in different forms since 2003 and has been held the past couple of years on Mother's Day. Proceeds go to the fund, with this year's event raising a record $10,000.

'Part of me always hoped,' Cadorette said of the event's success. 'It's such a community event. Everyone has become invested.'

Tom Raffio of Northeast Delta Dental signed on as the major sponsor, and, as he so often does in races his company sponsors, he went out and ran. Former Londonderry High and University of Michigan All-American John Mortimer and his company, Millennium Running, put on the event.

Mortimer, who has become the go-guy when it comes to organizing road races in this area, said all the races his company becomes involved with have to have a charitable component. His goal this year is to help raise $250,000 for charities. This race hit close to home because his mother died of cancer.

Mortimer said people run for a variety of reasons and, oftentimes, those reasons have nothing to do with the charity involved. He said Michelle's personality reminds everyone what the Purple Ribbon Mother's Day Run is really about.

'It allows the participants to feel good about their donation,' Mortimer said. 'She's a fantastic person that beams with hope. Battling cancer is an emotional roller coaster, but she has a very good outlook and is very hopeful. That's what captivated me and others.'

Cadorette's story drew dozens of people to the race, including a group of St. Anselm College lacrosse players and coaches.

Chris Gaudreau, a St. Anselm assistant who works with Cadorette at Bow High, organized the group. His brother, St. Anselm head coach Steve Gaudreau, who worked with Cadorette at Bow, ran with a couple of former Bow students now at St. Anselm, assistant coach Garrett Pedley and midfielder Griffin Sandler.

'Michelle's story is one that continues to inspire me on a daily basis,' Steve Gaudreau said. 'It was great to be part of such a special event.'

Bill Connors of Needham, Mass., also is battling thymoma and is being treated at Mass. General. He never met Michelle before, but he and almost 40 friends and family came up to take part in the race.

'It's incredibly humbling,' Michelle said.

And inspiring.

Email: jfennell@unionleader.com.

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