NEWBURYPORT — Running the Boston Marathon had always been on Jason Field’s bucket list, but when tragedy struck last year, the idea took on a much deeper meaning for him.
On May 5, Jason’s brother, Dr. Richard Field, and his fiancée, Dr. Lina Bolanos, were murdered in their luxurious South Boston condominium. The unusual story sent shock waves across the country but even more affected were their families, including Jason, who remembers them as kind, generous anesthesiologists.
“My brother was a second father to my children and his fiancée doted on my kids,” said Jason, 48, who lives in Newburyport with his wife and four children. “They were so giving and caring.”
After immigrating from England as children with their mother, Jason and Richard were raised in Beverly Hills, California. It was there, surrounded by a crowd of their well-to-do peers and school friends, that the two brothers were inspired to pursue what they considered to be “the American Dream,” making an effort to help and support each other along the way.
“I think for many years the two of us were pushing each other mentally and encouraging each other to succeed,” Jason said. “We were also helping each other along the way, and coaching each other as well. We were tight.”
Even after Richard’s death, his sense of encouragement continued on and drove Jason to pick up a bib for this year’s marathon and run for Massachusetts Eye and Ear’s Operation Airway team.
Jason will be making the 26.2-mile trek in memory of his brother and fiancée, who worked as a pediatric anesthesiologist at Mass Eye and Ear and was beloved for her gentle way with children.
“She’d make the parents feel very at ease and very comfortable as she was taking their child away to administer the anesthesia,” Jason said. “My brother had similar warm methods of making people feel very comfortable when going to him for their ailments.”
In the spirit of the couple’s kindness, Jason joined Operation Airway’s effort to raise $300,000 to fund missions for Mass Eye and Ear specialists to travel to Colombia, Bolanos’ homeland, to perform essential airway surgeries on underprivileged children and families.
He set a personal target of raising $15,000 but quickly surpassed his goal due to an outpouring of support from the community. To date, he has raised more than $21,000 for Mass Eye and Ear.
Running alongside Jason will be his longtime friend and fellow Englishman, Alex Forrest-Hay, with whom he has been running through neighborhoods in Newburyport and surrounding communities since late 2017 to prepare for the marathon.
With neither ever having run a road race before, they admit that Patriots Day is sure to be rife with challenges but said they are both nervous and excited for the event.
“I’m a bit undercooked but still very excited about running the race, and more importantly, about supporting Jason and the charity,” Forrest-Hay said, noting he is close to reaching his $10,000 fundraising goal.
“Richard had a great habit of getting people to do things they’d never done before, so this is a great opportunity,” he said.
After nearly a full year that has been extremely trying and filled with melancholy for Jason and his family, the physical pain of running a marathon seems manageable — even though he recently sustained a groin injury while training.
“From a physical standpoint, I’ve been told that you can do it — people can run 26 miles,” Jason said. “I’m sure I’ll be getting waves of emotions throughout the run, and I have no idea how it’s going to affect me.”
When the race is on, Jason said he believes his brother will be there in spirit to help him cross the finish line.
“I know he’s going to be pushing me when I feel like I’m hitting a wall, or complaining to myself about my injury,” Jason said. “He’d say, ‘Look at all these people that turned out watching, you can’t let them down, you can’t let me down.’ That’s the polite way he’d respond.”
For more information on Operation Airway, visit: www.masseyeandear.org/specialties/pediatrics/pediatric-ent/airwaycenter/operationairway.
Staff writer Jack Shea can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 978-961-3154. Follow him on Twitter @iamjackshea.