PEABODY — Peabody resident Bobby Manning is on a mission.
The 20-year old Syracuse sophomore will hit the streets Monday in the most important race of his career, the 122nd Boston Marathon.
Manning is running as a member of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center team in honor of his father, Bob Manning, who lost a brave battle with leukemia in May 2017.
For Manning, the race is more than just a 26.2 mile trek.
“This is my life mission at the moment, securing $7,500 to benefit the Beth Israel Cancer Center,” said Manning. “That’s where my dad received care and being able to give back for their generosity and care is of utmost important for me to feel like something good is coming out of the tragedy I’ve dealt with.”
Manning said he started thinking seriously after his cousin, Anthony Gill, suggested it.
“The night my father died, he came over and suggested it,” Manning said. “I initially said, ‘yeah, yeah, yeah,’ because he is always throwing ideas at me, then a couple of months or so later it dawned on me that I should run.”
Manning started training on his own last summer while waiting to find a charity that would accept him. He then followed the official marathon training program once he went back to Syracuse. His training consists of 5-6 mile weekday runs with two sprinting workouts that include runs of 800 to a mile. On weekends, he runs 10-11 miles.
Manning was a sprinter at Peabody High.
His real passion, however, is sports journalism. He developed a significant online presence while in high school, partnering with fellow journalists on TheNewEnglandBlog.com and BaseballEssentials.com, two up-and-coming media outlets. He was a regular contributor to Examiner.com and also wrote for CelticsLife.com He helped bring The Tanners Times, Peabody High’s newspaper into the modern world by adding an online version.
He was a Friday night press box regular at Tanners football games, alongside the Peabody Access Television broadcast team of play-by-play announcer Lou Cersosimo and color analyst John Goulos, oftentimes joining the duo on the air with halftime commentary.
And he was a special contributor to the Peabody Weekly News.
All of this before the age of 18.
At Syracuse, Manning attends the S. I. Newhouse School of Communications and is a sports reporter for the Daily Orange.
Manning says his original goal had been to run the race in 3:45, but a recent injury has caused him to back off a bit.
“I’ve had to cut back the last few weeks because of inflammation in my knee, so I’m hoping for something around 4:30-4:45,” he said. “I definitely overtrained, but it’s so hard to back off because you want to be ready.”
To date, Manning has raised approximately 88 percent of his pledge goal of $7,500. To make a donation or for more information about team BIDMC, visit Manning’s personal pledge page at https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/bidmcboston2018/bobbymanning1.
Manning said his inspiration comes from his mother, Patricia and sister, Ann, a junior at Peabody High.
“She is a nurse manager at Beverly Hospital and all through my father’s illness she was working and taking care of my sister Ann and then spending the nights at the hospital, so it was all day, 24 hours a day for her,” he said. “She did everything to keep our family together, so this is going to be very special for all of us.
“My sister ran a leukemia fundraiser with her volleyball team last fall, so now it’s my turn. The extra meaning for me will be the cheering as I get closer and closer to Boston, to see places like Fenway Park will give me the push to finish. It’s going to be an emotional day for all of us, but one thing I know, I will be celebrating when I cross the finish line.”
And yes, in case you are wondering, Manning says there will be a party that night, “for sure.”
“This race is a celebration of the great year we had in spite of all the adversity with our family, I don’t say we lost the battle because we had so many great years with my father and we made the best of what we had this past year and I am grateful for that.”