Dear Friends and Family,

This fall I am going to run the New York City Marathon for the Children’s Tumor Foundation in honor of my friend Brandon Merritt.

Many of you all possibly supported me last year and remember the story of Brandon.  For those who have forgotten or haven’t heard about Brandon before let me brag a little bit and tell you his story.

Brandon was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis (of NF) at an early age and something he struggled with for his entire life.  NF causes tumors to grow on nerves throughout the body and can lead to blindness, bone abnormalities, cancer, deafness, disfigurement, learning disabilities, and excruciating and disabling pain. NF is under-recognized and under diagnosed yet affects more people than cystic fibrosis, Duchene muscular dystrophy and Huntington’s disease combined.  Brandon went through numerous surgeries throughout his life to remove these tumors that grew throughout his body.  Brandon passed away unexpectedly at his home in Colorado on February 2, 2011 at the age of 22 from complications that had arisen from NF.

Brandon was a very special kid.  He didn’t have a mean bone in his body and never once complained about his situation.  He had a huge love of life especially nature (specifically animals) and most importantly his family and friends.  He worked at Beaver Creek Ski Resort as a ticket scanner in the winter and at a local golf course in the summer.  He was extremely passionate about the Boston Red Sox, The University of Miami Hurricanes, The Florida Panthers, ESPN, Snowboarding, Colorado in general and most importantly his Mom (Debbie), Dad (Ralph), and two Sisters (Stephanie and Jessica).

Last year through this fundraising event we were able to raise over $8,000.00 that went to the Children’s Tumor Foundation. We raised the 2nd highest amount for CTF out of 40 NYC Marathon participants.  This year my sister, Marni Luby, and three of her friends, Jennifer Cote, Kimberly Mancini and Josephine Croal (all from Connecticut) have agreed to run the NYC Marathon and raise money for CTF in honor of Brandon (TEAM B!).

I would truly greatly appreciate any support that you could offer in honor of Brandon to help benefit the Children’s Tumor Foundation so that they can help the families that are currently struggling with this disease and so that one day we can find an eventual cure for NF.

Lastly, below is a link to You Tube that I thought you might enjoy.  This was taking the am after Brandon’s Funeral (which happened to be on Super Bowl Sunday, 2011) This was filmed at Beaver Creek, CO where Brandon worked on the Mountain, his sisters worked there as well.   Beaver Creek opened the lift early that morning so that his Family, Friends and Co-Workers could have a tribute run in honor of Brandon before they opened the Mountain for the public.   It was a pretty awesome and emotional thing to be a part of.  There was also a 7 cannon salute done that am by the Beaver Creek Ski Patrol Avalanche team before we skied/rode down the Mountain.  Speaking at the end of the video is Ralph Merritt, Brandon’s Dad.  The song, Sweet Caroline, was Brandon’s favorite.