A St. Jude’s Hero

Posted by Monica Hoel
Emily Tolley Boyles said she’d NEVER run a full marathon. But that was before she met Mighty Max.

Emily Tolley Boyles (’07) had “survived” (her word!) a couple of half marathons in her running career, but she swore she would never do a full marathon. “I was in no way cut out to run 26.2 miles.”

But in January 2016, her son’s best friend, Max, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.  “To say our family was heartbroken is an understatement.  Connor and Max were born one month apart and have always been the very best of friends.  Max was only 4 when given this diagnosis.”

Emily Boyles with her son's best friend, “Mighty Max,” and a piece of artwork he did for her ...Max’s mother reached out to friends and family pleading for help raising money for childhood cancer research.  “I decided that I wanted to do something to help and to honor our sweet Max, now known as, Mighty Max.  I wanted to do something that was going to push me farther than I ever thought possible. I decided a marathon would be the perfect way to challenge myself and raise money and awareness for childhood cancer research.”

She began training in November 2016 with plans to run the Nashville Rock ‘n Roll Marathon in April 2017. She trained relentlessly, and would wake up at 3:00 in the morning just to get in 10 miles before work. “I had never been so motivated in my life.”

“Two weeks before the race, I began the tapering phase of my training. Finally!! I was ecstatic as I had survived the 20 mile training run and so many early mornings and sore legs.  I went out for my last long run, 12 miles, when I had a pain in my foot.  I tried running through it, but I just couldn’t. Turns out, it was a stress fracture.”

The injury meant she wouldn’t get to run the marathon, but she and her husband went to Nashville anyway. As a St. Jude’s Hero (a volunteer who raises money for St. Jude’s while training for a race) she was invited to a special pre-race dinner where some of the St. Jude’s patients would be there sharing their stories.” As we walked into the ballroom, those patients and their families lined the hallway and cheered for us as we entered the room.  It was one of the most emotional moments of my life.  It was a moment when I realized I had found a passion.”

Perhaps the sweetest part of this story is that Emily’s students stepped in as substitute runners for her. Emily is assistant principal at Galax Elementary School. “When I realized I could not run the marathon, the school held a ‘fun run’ and each student who participated ran 1 mile to help me reach the 26.2 miles that I was unable to run.”

In the end, Emily raised over $6,500. She credits a lot of people for her success including E&H friends who stepped up to help and even the children at Galax Elementary. “There were students in my school who gave their allowance as donations for the fundraiser. I feel strongly that not getting to run the marathon was God’s way of reminding me that it wasn’t about me, but those kids fighting the battle of their lives.”

Now, Emily’s son Connor is getting in on the service. About a month ago, he told her he wanted  to dedicate his birthday this year (he’s turning 7) to St. Jude.  “Our entire family is heading to the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon in Virginia Beach in September 2018 to run for the St. Jude kids.  In only a few days, my son has raised $1,185!  I cannot wait to see the difference he is going to make over the next several months!  I am so proud to have passed this passion and dedication on to him.”

Emily Tolley Boyles at the Nashville Rock n Roll Marathon...wearing her orthopedic boot.

  • Emily Tolley Boyles
    Emily Tolley Boyles
“When I realized I could not run the marathon, the school held a ‘fun run’ and each student who participated ran 1 mile to help me reach the 26.2 miles that I was unable to run.”

Save & Share:

More News

  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/76-from-cervesa-to-service" title="From Cervesa to Service" aria-label="From Cervesa to Service"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2048,1152/655_EHCITY_Oregon_2017.rev.1506450342.jpg" alt="Sarah Gillman Whitney and Jo Ann English organized an E&H in the City event in Oregon." class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2048,1152/655_EHCITY_Oregon_2017.rev.1506450342.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2048,1152/655_EHCITY_Oregon_2017.rev.1506450342.jpg 3x" data-max-w="2048" data-max-h="1152"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/76-from-cervesa-to-service" title="From Cervesa to Service" aria-label="From Cervesa to Service">From Cervesa to Service</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">These two alumni found each other at an E&H in the City event in Oregon…and learned they had similar service passions! <a href="/live/news/76-from-cervesa-to-service" class="link-with-arrow gold" title="From Cervesa to Service" aria-label="From Cervesa to Service">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/56-rhythm-roots-had-a-little-lamb" title="Rhythm & Roots Had A Little Lamb" aria-label="Rhythm & Roots Had A Little Lamb"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1000,666/568_brent.rev.1505410086.jpg" alt="Brent Treash is serving as the 2017 Rhythm & Roots President" class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1000,666/568_brent.rev.1505410086.jpg 2x" data-max-w="1000" data-max-h="666"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/56-rhythm-roots-had-a-little-lamb" title="Rhythm & Roots Had A Little Lamb" aria-label="Rhythm & Roots Had A Little Lamb">Rhythm & Roots Had A Little Lamb</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">…and his name was Brent Treash, E&H Class of ’01. He served as president of the 2017 Rhythm & Roots Festival. <a href="/live/news/56-rhythm-roots-had-a-little-lamb" class="link-with-arrow gold" title="Rhythm & Roots Had A Little Lamb" aria-label="Rhythm & Roots Had A Little Lamb">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/519-dogs-best-friend" title="Dog’s Best Friend" aria-label="Dog’s Best Friend"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2400,3200/4527_IMG-9834.rev.1536347287.JPG" alt="One of the adoptable dogs found at BARK." class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2400,3200/4527_IMG-9834.rev.1536347287.JPG 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2400,3200/4527_IMG-9834.rev.1536347287.JPG 3x" data-max-w="2400" data-max-h="3200"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/519-dogs-best-friend" title="Dog’s Best Friend" aria-label="Dog’s Best Friend">Dog’s Best Friend</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">David “Skip” Harless shows up day after day to make sure the dogs of BARK feel loved. <a href="/live/news/519-dogs-best-friend" class="link-with-arrow gold" title="Dog’s Best Friend" aria-label="Dog’s Best Friend">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/377-give-us-emory-henry-in-the-city" title="Give Us Emory & Henry In the City!" aria-label="Give Us Emory & Henry In the City!"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,960,960/3728_EHCITY_SACREMENTO.rev.1522090608.jpg" alt="Senator Toni Atkins ('84) and Pam Kestner ('83) stole the show with their Patrick Henry Poses!" class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,960,960/3728_EHCITY_SACREMENTO.rev.1522090608.jpg 2x" data-max-w="960" data-max-h="960"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/377-give-us-emory-henry-in-the-city" title="Give Us Emory & Henry In the City!" aria-label="Give Us Emory & Henry In the City!">Give Us Emory & Henry In the City!</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">“E&H in the City” has become part of the E&H lexicon! <a href="/live/news/377-give-us-emory-henry-in-the-city" class="link-with-arrow gold" title="Give Us Emory & Henry In the City!" aria-label="Give Us Emory & Henry In the City!">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/162-eamphs-hidden-role-in-hidden-figures" title="E&H’s Hidden Role in “Hidden Figures”" aria-label="E&H’s Hidden Role in “Hidden Figures”"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,95,232,327/855_Hidden.rev.1507735803.jpg" alt="The cover of Margot Lee Shetterly's book, Hidden Figures." class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="232" data-max-h="346"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/162-eamphs-hidden-role-in-hidden-figures" title="E&H’s Hidden Role in “Hidden Figures”" aria-label="E&H’s Hidden Role in “Hidden Figures”">E&H’s Hidden Role in “Hidden Figures”</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">The book, “Hidden Figures,” has been made into a movie and everyone is loving the story. But you might not know about a couple of E&H figures who are in the story. <a href="/live/news/162-eamphs-hidden-role-in-hidden-figures" class="link-with-arrow gold" title="E&H’s Hidden Role in “Hidden Figures”" aria-label="E&H’s Hidden Role in “Hidden Figures”">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/70-debb-hirsch-clays-poem-honors-gold-star-mothers" title="Debb Hirsch Clay’s Poem Honors Gold Star Mothers" aria-label="Debb Hirsch Clay’s Poem Honors Gold Star Mothers"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/473,91,879,497/733_debb_clay_jpg.rev.1506976631.jpg" alt="Debb Hirsch Clay's poem about Gold Star Mothers has gotten a lot of attention." class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/473,91,879,497/733_debb_clay_jpg.rev.1506976631.jpg 2x" data-max-w="883" data-max-h="851"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/70-debb-hirsch-clays-poem-honors-gold-star-mothers" title="Debb Hirsch Clay’s Poem Honors Gold Star Mothers" aria-label="Debb Hirsch Clay’s Poem Honors Gold Star Mothers">Debb Hirsch Clay’s Poem Honors Gold Star Mothers</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">Debb says it’s a poem for people who find themselves with a designation that no mother wants. <a href="/live/news/70-debb-hirsch-clays-poem-honors-gold-star-mothers" class="link-with-arrow gold" title="Debb Hirsch Clay’s Poem Honors Gold Star Mothers" aria-label="Debb Hirsch Clay’s Poem Honors Gold Star Mothers">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/312-class-notes-updated-nov-2017" title="Class Notes: Updated Nov. 2017" aria-label="Class Notes: Updated Nov. 2017"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,720,960/3380_gate.rev.1519759668.jpg" alt="E&H campus gates on a foggy morning." class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,720,960/3380_gate.rev.1519759668.jpg 2x" data-max-w="720" data-max-h="960"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/312-class-notes-updated-nov-2017" title="Class Notes: Updated Nov. 2017" aria-label="Class Notes: Updated Nov. 2017">Class Notes: Updated Nov. 2017</a></h4></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/295-perfect-harmony" title="Perfect Harmony!" aria-label="Perfect Harmony!"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/604,99,923,417/3305_Carolinas_Mixed_Quartet_Champions.rev.1518801465.jpg" alt="Carolinas Mixed Quartet Champions" class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/604,99,923,417/3305_Carolinas_Mixed_Quartet_Champions.rev.1518801465.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/604,99,923,417/3305_Carolinas_Mixed_Quartet_Champions.rev.1518801465.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1315" data-max-h="872"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/295-perfect-harmony" title="Perfect Harmony!" aria-label="Perfect Harmony!">Perfect Harmony!</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">Warren Fuson’s (E&H ’73) quartet just won a big competition! Give a listen! <a href="/live/news/295-perfect-harmony" class="link-with-arrow gold" title="Perfect Harmony!" aria-label="Perfect Harmony!">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/187-josh-myers-is-at-the-helm" title="Josh Myers Is at the Helm" aria-label="Josh Myers Is at the Helm"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,427,427/1596_Josh_Myers.rev.1513028145.jpg" alt="Josh Myers and wife, Katie." class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="427" data-max-h="427"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/187-josh-myers-is-at-the-helm" title="Josh Myers Is at the Helm" aria-label="Josh Myers Is at the Helm">Josh Myers Is at the Helm</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">Josh Myers (’08) is president of EMM Financial Services. <a href="/live/news/187-josh-myers-is-at-the-helm" class="link-with-arrow gold" title="Josh Myers Is at the Helm" aria-label="Josh Myers Is at the Helm">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/479-more-than-a-vacation-turns-25" title="More Than A Vacation Turns 25" aria-label="More Than A Vacation Turns 25"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,720,720/4382_bird_walk.rev.1533755912.jpg" alt="Bill Williams (E&H '69) led a morning bird walk then gave a presentation on birds and bi..." class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,720,720/4382_bird_walk.rev.1533755912.jpg 2x" data-max-w="720" data-max-h="960"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/479-more-than-a-vacation-turns-25" title="More Than A Vacation Turns 25" aria-label="More Than A Vacation Turns 25">More Than A Vacation Turns 25</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">Emory & Henry’s summer alumni college (More Than A Vacation) celebrated a 25th anniversary this summer. <a href="/live/news/479-more-than-a-vacation-turns-25" class="link-with-arrow gold" title="More Than A Vacation Turns 25" aria-label="More Than A Vacation Turns 25">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/310-eamph-dog-brings-home-westminster-honors" title="E&H Dog Brings Home Westminster Honors!" aria-label="E&H Dog Brings Home Westminster Honors!"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/33,0,519,486/3378_unnamed.rev.1519749000.jpg" alt="Dog Show Winner: Bob (E&H '69) and Sharon Moreland's dog Louie, a 2-year-old Wireha..." class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/33,0,519,486/3378_unnamed.rev.1519749000.jpg 2x" data-max-w="700" data-max-h="486"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/310-eamph-dog-brings-home-westminster-honors" title="E&H Dog Brings Home Westminster Honors!" aria-label="E&H Dog Brings Home Westminster Honors!">E&H Dog Brings Home Westminster Honors!</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">Bob Moreland, E&H ’69, has a dog who just placed in the Westminster Dog Show! <a href="/live/news/310-eamph-dog-brings-home-westminster-honors" class="link-with-arrow gold" title="E&H Dog Brings Home Westminster Honors!" aria-label="E&H Dog Brings Home Westminster Honors!">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/67-the-little-pony-in-the-cemetery" title="The Little Pony in the Cemetery" aria-label="The Little Pony in the Cemetery"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2400,3200/728_19E35B9F-0C53-4243-A5C9-7BFA8720C009.rev.1506974918.JPG" alt="The little concrete pony found in the Emory Cemetery" class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2400,3200/728_19E35B9F-0C53-4243-A5C9-7BFA8720C009.rev.1506974918.JPG 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2400,3200/728_19E35B9F-0C53-4243-A5C9-7BFA8720C009.rev.1506974918.JPG 3x" data-max-w="2400" data-max-h="3200"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/67-the-little-pony-in-the-cemetery" title="The Little Pony in the Cemetery" aria-label="The Little Pony in the Cemetery">The Little Pony in the Cemetery</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">A professor’s gift to his dying children shows the power of a promise. <a href="/live/news/67-the-little-pony-in-the-cemetery" class="link-with-arrow gold" title="The Little Pony in the Cemetery" aria-label="The Little Pony in the Cemetery">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/156-eamph-alumnus-gary-reedy-named-ceo-of-american" title="E&H Alumnus Gary Reedy Is CEO of American Cancer Society" aria-label="E&H Alumnus Gary Reedy Is CEO of American Cancer Society"><img src="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1000,666/851_alumni-gary-reedy.rev.1507730801.jpg" alt="Reedy, class of 78, speaks on campus." class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1000,666/851_alumni-gary-reedy.rev.1507730801.jpg 2x" data-max-w="1000" data-max-h="666"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/156-eamph-alumnus-gary-reedy-named-ceo-of-american" title="E&H Alumnus Gary Reedy Is CEO of American Cancer Society" aria-label="E&H Alumnus Gary Reedy Is CEO of American Cancer Society">E&H Alumnus Gary Reedy Is CEO of American Cancer Society</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">Gary M. Reedy serves as the chief executive officer of the <a title="American Cancer Society Homepage" href="http://www.cancer.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">American Cancer Society</a>, placing the 1978 Emory & Henry graduate atop one of the most influential non-profit organizations in the nation. <a href="/live/news/156-eamph-alumnus-gary-reedy-named-ceo-of-american" class="link-with-arrow gold" title="E&H Alumnus Gary Reedy Is CEO of American Cancer Society" aria-label="E&H Alumnus Gary Reedy Is CEO of American Cancer Society">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/191-marsha-wagoner-kayaking-into-the-sunset" title="Marsha Wagoner: Kayaking into the sunset??" aria-label="Marsha Wagoner: Kayaking into the sunset??"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2400/1727_IMG-4387.rev.1513886589.JPG" alt="Marsha Wagoner at Farmer's Hardware in Sparta, NC." class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2400/1727_IMG-4387.rev.1513886589.JPG 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2400/1727_IMG-4387.rev.1513886589.JPG 3x" data-max-w="3200" data-max-h="2400"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/191-marsha-wagoner-kayaking-into-the-sunset" title="Marsha Wagoner: Kayaking into the sunset??" aria-label="Marsha Wagoner: Kayaking into the sunset??">Marsha Wagoner: Kayaking into the sunset??</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">After 80 years in business, Farmer’s Hardware in Sparta is saying goodnight. <a href="/live/news/191-marsha-wagoner-kayaking-into-the-sunset" class="link-with-arrow gold" title="Marsha Wagoner: Kayaking into the sunset??" aria-label="Marsha Wagoner: Kayaking into the sunset??">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/68-that-one-timewhen-being-flip-was-a-good-thing" title="That one time...when being flip was a good thing!" aria-label="That one time...when being flip was a good thing!"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1000,750/731_toni.rev.1506976173.jpg" alt="Cameron Chase and Toni Atkins on the floor of the California Assembly." class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1000,750/731_toni.rev.1506976173.jpg 2x" data-max-w="1000" data-max-h="750"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/68-that-one-timewhen-being-flip-was-a-good-thing" title="That one time...when being flip was a good thing!" aria-label="That one time...when being flip was a good thing!">That one time...when being flip was a good thing!</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">Toni Atkins (’84) gave an E&H student a professional opportunity of a lifetime. <a href="/live/news/68-that-one-timewhen-being-flip-was-a-good-thing" class="link-with-arrow gold" title="That one time...when being flip was a good thing!" aria-label="That one time...when being flip was a good thing!">Keep reading</a></div></div>