By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – Shrewsbury resident Jim Heald is in training for his 13th Boston Marathon. Claiming that this will be his last, he wants to go out in the best way possible – raising funds for an organization that is near and dear to his heart, Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services (SYFS). This year’s marathon will take place Monday, April 15.
Heald, 47, was recently honored with the Harry S. Cutting Jr. Award by SYFS at their Annual Breakfast Jan. 18. He is a former board member and has served as the agency’s gala chair and auctioneer.
His marathon story began in the late 1990s when he was at the gym watching runners crossing the finish line on television. He thought, “If they can do it so can I.” Within a year he was ready.
“I just love marathon Monday,” Heald said. “The Red Sox play and it’s just the energy that’s along the marathon route.”
“The 100th anniversary of the Boston Marathon was my first marathon and my last one was in 2015,” Heald said. “If I could do one last marathon, why not enjoy the run and raise some money for a cause that I’ve always supported? It’s a great agency.”
“SYFS is its sort of an unsung hero,” he added. “People in town know that it’s there, but it doesn’t have the name recognition that some of the huge charities do – but the resource that it provides the community, Shrewsbury is lucky.”
“Through his consistent and tireless support of SYFS, it’s clear that Jim cares as deeply about the children and families most impacted by trauma and stress as we do. Our work would not be possible without this kind of support and we are eternally grateful to Jim for linking arms with us,” remarked SYFS Executive Director Christine Mowry.
Heald is also an integral part of the committee behind the successful Turkey Trot for the Memory that happens in Shrewsbury on Thanksgiving Day. The annual event supports Alzheimer’s research through the Alzheimer’s Association, MA/NH Chapter.
It’s been four years since his last marathon run. However, he hasn’t stopped running. He runs with a group of friends that meets in Worcester once a week and with Shrewsbury friends who are marathon devotees.
“I’ve never considered myself a runner and gosh, it sounds like I’m bragging but I’m not, but I went out and did 17 miles and I was fine. I don’t know, you just get in the groove and you run,” he said.
“I want to finish, that’s realistic…my best marathon was 3 hours, 30 minutes and 35 seconds. This year I’ll be happy if I finish in five or under,” Heald admitted.
His fundraising goal is $10,000 and he has already reached 60 percent. To help him over the finish line, donations can be made by visiting www.syfs-ma.org or by mailing a check to SYFS, 222 Maple Ave., The Higgins Building, Shrewsbury, MA 01545; or at https://bit.ly/2SNwa1f.