For ‘Orange Is the New Black’ Star Uzo Aduba, Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge Is Personal

Emmy Award-winning actress and Medfield, Mass., native Uzo Aduba has won numerous accolades for her portrayal of Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren on the Netflix original series, “Orange Is the New Black.” On April 20, Aduba’s fans will be cheering her on as she tackles a new role – running her first Boston Marathon® to support cancer research as part of the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge (DFMC).

Uzo Aduba
Uzo Aduba

“Running the Boston Marathon has been a lifelong dream, and I am proud to be supporting Dana-Farber as I make this dream come true on April 20,” says Aduba. “As someone who grew up outside of Boston, I’ve always respected Dana-Farber’s groundbreaking work in cancer research. I’m honored to be a member of their team, helping to raise money to further this work so that one day we may all live in a world without cancer.”

After completing the New York City Marathon, Aduba was further motivated to run Boston’s famed 26.2-mile course after the bombings that killed three and injured more than 250 at the Copley Square finish line during the 2013 race.

“It feels like the right thing to do,” Aduba told People magazine. “It still feels pretty raw, and with [the trial] it almost feels like a Band-Aid getting pulled back again. That’s where I grew up, where I learned what a marathon even was…to be a part of it, it feels particularly special.”

Aduba and her DFMC teammates will also be easy to spot on Marathon Monday, as they will all be wearing an updated team singlet featuring images of the Boston skyline running along each side of the jersey. The design was created last year by Dana-Farber to represent a symbolic “hug” from the city to the 2014 team members returning to the Marathon course after the bombings. The 2015 singlet, a photo of which Aduba displayed on her Instagram account last month to announce she was running for the DFMC, features an orange and teal version of the 2014 singlet representing the continued, figurative embrace of the runners and the event.

As DFMC team members continue to train in a season marked with weeks of record snowfall and harsh temperatures that hampered outdoor runs, the mission has remained the key motivation for the nearly 575 runners including 16 Institute employees – preparing for the 26th annual running of the DFMC.

DFMC singlet
The 2015 Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge singlet

“Despite the epic winter experienced in New England, DFMC weekend group runs have been some of the best ever,” says Dana-Farber Running Programs Training Advisor Jack Fultz, the 1976 Boston Marathon champion. “We’ve had record attendance by team members and volunteers alike, and ‘can-do’ attitudes all around.”

The Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge has raised more than $69 million for Dana-Farber’s Claudia Adams Barr Program in Innovative Basic Cancer Research since its inception in 1990. One hundred percent of the team’s fundraising goes to the Barr Program, which supports research at its most fundamental molecular and genetic level.

DFMC runners include cancer survivors and patients, as well as family and friends like Aduba. This year’s team goal is $5.2 million for the Barr Program.

“On the fundraising front, we’re going strong,” says Jan Ross, assistant vice president for Running Programs at Dana-Farber. “We have high hopes for great results during this memorable season.”