Originally published in The Weekly Packet, April 24, 2014
Marathon runner looks locally to raise funds for brain cancer research
O.J. Logue, director of student services at DISHS is preparing to run the Sugarloaf Marathon for student Brandon Higgins, right, and to raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
by Faith DeAmbrose
Not letting a disability define you as a person is something that Deer Isle-Stonington High School Senior Brandon Higgins knows all too well. Diagnosed in 2011, at the age of 15, with an inoperable brain stem tumor, Higgins, who was initially given 18 months to live, has embarked on a three-year journey to raise awareness and help others face similar diagnoses.
His resilience and story captured the attention of Union 76 Director of Student Services O.J. Logue who is putting his talents on the line to run a marathon in Higgins’ honor and to raise funds for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. To date the pair has raised almost $7,000 of a $10,000 goal ahead of Logue’s next race: the Sugarloaf Marathon on May 15.
Logue, 56, is no stranger to the sport of running. A 30-time marathoner, Logue also knows something about overcoming disabilities. Born deaf and with severe asthma, the journey from childhood to his November 2006 induction into the Maine Running Hall of Fame has not been without its challenges. “Team sports were difficult because I couldn’t hear,” said Logue in a recent interview, “so for me, running was a sport I could do on my own.” He said it took him years to develop the lung capacity needed to be a runner, but once he hit his stride, there was no turning back. He has lent his name and legs to a number of fundraising goals, saying that he prefers running for charity to just running for himself.
For Higgins, the marathon and the fundraising come at a difficult time for him personally. Having just recently received the news that his inactive tumor is again growing, he faces the very real possibility that he will soon become a patient at Dana- Farber. With the development only strengthening his resolve, Higgins has begun to focus his efforts on raising awareness of his condition. May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month, and that has sent Higgins into overdrive.
The high school senior recently spent his job-shadow day working with Deer Isle wordsmith Lis Ingoldsby of Mainely Words to help better prepare for public speaking—something he hopes to do a lot more of. Ingoldsby also helped him to draft letters to organizations aimed at offering his services for speaking engagements. “This is a way for me to give back,” said Higgins during an April 18 interview. Being diagnosed with a terminal condition, “really makes you step up to the plate and to be more mature,” said the 18-year-old. “It makes you look at your life and at all the little things you might have taken for granted.”
Higgins has sent out a number of letters and has received responses from a few organizations. He said he may have to put that on hold for the time being as he navigates this latest news, but he is confident that he is laying the groundwork for the future. For the time being, though, he will focus on the marathon, raising money and getting the word out about the effects of brain tumors.
Donations for Logue’s marathon run can be made online. Donations can also be sent to the Higgins family at 137 High Street, Brooklin, ME 04616 with “Marathon Money Donation” in the memo line.