Kaylene Murphy is a two-sport athlete for Buccaneer athletics, competing in cross country and softball. Her most important athletic event, however, is the Boston Marathon. This year, our NCAA Division III Week Female Athlete of the Day is running for the second time in support of the Dana Farber Cancer Fund, with a very personal motivation for the challenge.
"I ran the Boston Marathon in 2016 with my brother A.J. Murphy, who was a senior crew member at the time," explained Murphy. "I ran it for the Dana Farber Cancer Fund. My mom was treated there for breast cancer before she passed away when I was in high school. They do a lot of research and I want to give back as they kept her healthy and alive much longer."
Running the Marathon has become a family tradition and Murphy is the fourth family member to complete the long-distance run. One edition resonated especially with her.
"My Dad ran in '95 for Dana Farber and then my aunt ran in 2010 and 2011. In 2010, my mom was still alive and jumped in at the end and crossed the finish line with her. I was 14 and I thought, I am going to do that as soon as I turned 18. It was so cool.
"Looking back now, it is [incredible]. She had a tumor in her hip and her pelvic bone was broken, but she still ran. I didn't put that together at the time, but it was really cool."
For those who are unfamiliar, runners who are completing the Marathon for charity are required to raise or pay $5,000. Having been down this road before, Murphy had a game plan for fundraising and planned it with the efficiency of an Emergency Management major which, coincidentally enough, is exactly what the 2018 graduate is studying.
"The minimum is $5,000 and I am at $8,500. My goal is $10,000. When my brother and I ran, we raised around $17,000 together, so it is a sustainable goal."
Mass Maritime has played a big role in supporting Murphy, both this year and in her sophomore year. Now the Seventh Company Platoon Leader, the Randolph, Mass. native made wristbands that "almost everyone" in her company now wears. Her best mobilizing moment came more recently, however.
"Last week, I had a fundraiser and I invited so many people from here and raised $3,000. It was amazing to see the support from here—there were between 70-100 people just from Mass Maritime alone. The whole softball team came and all the seniors in my major came.
"My roommate and her family helped a lot with it. We had a raffle and charged a $10 cover to get in. We had pizza and other food and people hung out. It was just a really good, casual night. The amount of people that came out was far more than would normally go out on a weekend. It was so awesome, I can't really express it!"
Murphy's backing will continue on April 16, as the only runner in her family this year.
"A lot of people will be along the course. It is helpful doing it before, so I know where people will be. Plus, everybody around here gets super pumped at Boston Marathon!"
The softball team, in particular, has been a source of support and friendship.
"I am really close to people on the softball team. When I ran it two years ago, they all got shirts with my family's slogan and my initials on it. We had a game at Salem State and, after the game, they surprised me by putting on the shirts. I turned around and I had no idea they were doing it!"
The diamond women have also proved important to Murphy's cause in a different way.
"I am not just running for my mom. She was never about herself and never wanted the attention, so I am also running for other friends' parents who have passed away. I have a friend [at the Academy] whose mom passed away only a few weeks, so I am running for her. There are probably five-to-six girls on the team that have lost someone to cancer."
I asked the Ursuline Academy graduate how she balanced extensive charitable efforts, her obligations a student and an athlete at the Academy, and her regimental duties. The thoughtful, yet warm and pleasant Murphy had a response I knew by then to be what I ought to expect.
"If I didn't do that, I would be a mess. I need a tight schedule so that when I only have two hours, I get things accomplished. It has taught me how to balance time."
And what does being a Division-III athlete mean to her?
"It has taught me not to make excuses. I do more in a day than I ever thought I would be able to. There are so many hours in the day that you can do positive things that make a positive impact. At a regular college, I would feel more inclined to be sitting and not doing anything.
"Academics come first. I didn't come to the school to play softball. It's something that I wanted to do and I love it. I chose the school because of all they offer here, the leadership experience, and the camaraderie. Second to that is playing two D-III sports and meeting amazing people."
Murphy is pursuing a career in the Public Health Corps as she wants to work in emergency management in a uniformed setting. Readers can support Murphy's incredible efforts by donating on her "Murphys' Dropkick Cancer" page [link]. Donors can pledge any amount and dedicate in the memory of Kaylene's mother or loved ones that they have lost as well. Well-wishes to Murphy can be directed to the Athletic Department via email or social media.
Stay tuned as we continue to profile our male and female athletes every day of NCAA Division III Week. Murphy also drew our attention to Zach O'Neil, a junior men's soccer player, who is running the Marathon to support mitochondrial disease research. We will hear from O'Neil next week.
Gabriel Fidler, Sports Information Associate