Champion for Our Kids 2023 – Neil Levine

Above: Proclamation presented by Senator Walter Timilty
with SOWMA Board Chair Athena Giannaros

Below: Neil with wife Wendi Levine and SOWMA Founder Cheryl Opper

Presented to Neil Levine
by Founder Cheryl Opper
at our “Inspire Their Future” gala,
November 9, 2023


“Most of you know Neil as one of the owners of Maguire’s Bar and Grill in Easton. You might know Neil as a running buddy, or the long time cross country coach for Oliver Ames High School. Some of you know Neil as a fun-loving adventurous fitness, rock climbing, motorcycle guy.

I know him best for his love for our School on Wheels mission.

Neil and his wife Wendi have been involved in supporting our students since the very beginning
when I first ran the program out of my home in 2004.

Everyone who knows Neil, knows he is one of the healthiest, most active maniacs you know. He has run thousands of races, taken dozens and dozens of adventurous trips, one being climbing to the top of Kilimanjaro (the tallest mountain on the African Continent)!

Neil loves our mission, so this year he decided to run the Falmouth Road Race as part of Team SOWMA.
Neil has run Falmouth ever year since he was a junior in high school. The only race he missed was when he climbed Kilimanjaro.

This year’s Falmouth road race was very different and “life changing” for Neil, because on April 3rd Neil went to see his doctor because he noticed a lump on his neck. Two days later the doctor called to tell him he had cancer. After many tests a treatment plan was laid out. Neil was determined to still do Falmouth in August, despite being diagnosed with cancer.

One of his favorite quotes comes from Martin Luther King.

“If you can’t FLY, RUN
If you can’t RUN, WALK
If you can’t WALK, CRAWL

Thats exactly what Neil did!

Once he had his treatment schedule laid out, he knew his last day of radiation would be
three weeks before the Falmouth Road Race. He had his goal!

Neil would be on the starting line for his 41st Falmouth road race on August 20th!
When he told his oncologist of his race goal, the doctor said Neil would be the
first person he’s ever treated to do something like that!

Neil told his friends and family his plan for Falmouth was to walk, jog, maybe do a little of both and see how he felt. His hotel was four miles into the course, so he could always drop out if he felt lousy (that was not really an option, but he assured his wife and his doctor to make them happy).

The starting gun went off and Neil started out in a slow jog. He kept putting one foot in front of the other. He never walked, and he never stopped, 7 miles later, he crossed the finish line, and raised
more than $15,000 for SOWMA that day.

It was his slowest pace he had ever run but it was his GREATEST RACE EVER!

Neil shed lots of tears that day, as he reflected on how blessed he was, where he was in his life,
and his ability to give back and leave the world a better place!

That is why I am beyond honored to ask Neil to come to the stage now to accept our “Champion for our Kids” award for the ways he continues to make strides – and make the world a better place for our kids!”

Heartbreak Hill, Falmouth 2023

For more on our Inspire Their Future Gala, click here

Educate Kids. Empower Families. End Homelessness

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