NH firefighter raising money for cancer awareness by running Boston Marathon

Fire Lt. Russell Osgood will run the Boston Marathon to raise money for the Last Call Foundation


Elizabeth Dinan
Portsmouth Herald, N.H.

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Seven months ago, Fire Lt. Russell Osgood hadn't run a mile in his life, owned one pair of old shorts and his only pair of sneakers were, unknowingly, two sizes too small.

In less than two weeks, Osgood, 48, will run the Boston Marathon to raise money for the Last Call Foundation which, he said, has trained him to train firefighters across the country with best practices for occupational-cancer prevention.

The Last Call Foundation reports it currently funds the Firefighter Cancer Support Network "train the trainer program," which pays for Fire Lt. Russell Osgood to bring the best cancer-prevention practices to other firefighters. (Photo/Portsmouth Fire Department Facebook)
The Last Call Foundation reports it currently funds the Firefighter Cancer Support Network "train the trainer program," which pays for Fire Lt. Russell Osgood to bring the best cancer-prevention practices to other firefighters. (Photo/Portsmouth Fire Department Facebook)

Osgood set a $12,000 fundraising goal, by Wednesday had surpassed it and said he hopes to "blow the roof off it."

The Last Call Foundation reports it currently funds the Firefighter Cancer Support Network "train the trainer program," which pays for Osgood to bring the best cancer-prevention practices to other firefighters. The organization is also funding research on PFAS chemicals to see if the suspected carcinogen was used in firefighters' gear as a water repellent, then study possible health implications. It is also researching the development of fire hoses that "can't burn through," Osgood said.

"In an effort to pay it forward, I will be running the 2019 Boston Marathon as a charity runner," Osgood wrote on his fundraising web page. "I am undertaking this for the Last Call Foundation who has done so much for firefighter health and safety since it was established following the tragic death of two Boston firefighters."

Osgood said he was talking to a physician with the Last Call Foundation team about the Boston Marathon who encouraged him to try it.

"I thought the only thing I'm going to run is from a bear," said the Maine resident. "But it stuck in my head."

So he started with two 5K runs, increased to a 10K and, he said, "I thought I can do this." In December he started training with a team that trains Boston marathoners running for charities. He started running 20 miles a week, with a long run on Saturdays and before long, he'd finished a 21.1-mile run and said, "I felt really good."

That was after someone suggested Osgood go to Runner's Alley in Portsmouth for an evaluation of his footwear after he was experiencing some foot pain. He said he went into the store wearing a size 9 and left with size 11.

Osgood said he's since tried various brands of running shoes and joked, "Now I'm into this thing for about $1,500 in shoes."

"I never thought in a million years I'd have more than one pair of sneakers," he said. "And I never thought in a million years I'd wear tights, but I do and they're warm."

He said his running routine has provided great exercise, changed his body and, "I do enjoy it." He's also learned that carb-loading for a marathon is passe and his food fuel of choice is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

"I'm not breaking any speed records," he predicted about Marathon Monday. "I'll be happy to finish."

Osgood has led several local efforts to raise money for cancer research and helped push for successful legislation to fund firefighter cancer treatment benefits through worker's compensation.

When city firefighters first launched a cancer-awareness program in 2007, Sarah Fox, a firefighter and paramedic, was newly diagnosed with breast cancer. Fox died in December 2011, leaving a husband, three children and the city's firefighters who supported her and her family through four years of treatments. Firefighter Jeff Bokum died of cancer five months later.

Osgood has also promoted year-round sales of T-shirts and hoodies at the city's fire houses to raise funds for the Firefighter Cancer Support Network and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

"We recognize cancer is one of the leading causes of firefighter death," he said last October, when promoting the shirts for the cause.

Donations to sponsor Osgood's Boston Marathon fundraiser can be made online at crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/lastcallfoundationboston2019/russellosgood.

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©2019 Portsmouth Herald, N.H.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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