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The Mass Media

Race II a Cure brings light to a community

Race+II+a+Cure+participants+take+on+the+Harbor+Walk.
Michael Vesci
Race II a Cure participants take on the Harbor Walk. Photo courtesy of Michael Vesci of UMass Boston Athletics.

For senior hockey players Andrew Walker and Jake Adkins, being a Beacon isn’t simply a school mascot, it’s also a symbol of bringing hope and light to their community. As individuals whose families had been affected by cancer, the two saw their role as Beacons as a chance to inspire change.
Throughout their career at UMass Boston, Walker and Adkins have made a name for themselves as clever and active advocates for the fight against cancer. In their sophomore year, in the wake of COVID-19, they partnered with the American Cancer Society and founded their non-profit campaign, now known as Men In Blades, a play on words inspired by “Men In Black.”
In their first campaign, the two rollerbladed side by side from UMass Boston’s campus to Walker’s home in Manson, Michigan—a distance of 900 miles. The duo raised $30,000 in 10 days, and cemented their image as change makers shining a light on cancer patients and cancer survivors.
During their years as upperclassmen, Men in Blades decided to establish events to ensure this mission would remain at the forefront of the community’s attention. Last year, the two hosted the UMass Boston Hockey Fights Cancer game, raising $5,000. Later this year, they will repeat this event with the intention of meeting or exceeding donations.
More recently, on the bright morning of Sunday, Sept. 18, Men in Blades hosted an event where fellow student athletes came together to run a 5K. Faces from the ice hockey, volleyball and tennis teams, among others, arrived uniformed in light blue t-shirts and congregated beside the Campus Center to get ready to run.
Race members ran around the Harbor Walk towards Carson Beach and back. A total of seven teams and several individuals raised over $13,500. Walker and Adkins had trust in planning this event because they knew their fellow student athletes would be there for them. When asked about their impressions following the event, Men in Blades commented the following:
“We had tremendous faith in the fellow student athletes in their vow of support. I think one thing truly remarkable at the school is that student athletes do support each other. It is one of many attributes that make going here such a great experience.”
Not only did this event reflect UMass Boston’s student athletes, but the community as a whole. The event featured lawn games after the race, where all students participated. Similarly, various school officials gave supporting speeches as athletes cooled down.
“The athletes supported tremendously, which was greatly appreciated. One notable reflection was the support from those who weren’t athletes. That includes the incredible student body, athletic department, faculty including professors, and the ‘higher ups’ at the school such as the Dean of Students. This event went well beyond the effort from Men in Blades and wouldn’t be achievable without the UMass Boston community,” said Walker and Adkins when asked about the support reflected in the event.
If students are interested in learning about Men In Blades’ journey they can find more information and interviews on the UMass Boston athletic department website.
Men in Blades shared the following thankful message for UMass Boston:
“We would first like to thank everyone involved in this event for helping the event excel in donations and the awareness of cancer. We would also like to acknowledge the perseverance shown by this community after a pandemic. We, as a community, are able to rally around each other to achieve a new normal while accomplishing incredible achievements,” (1).
https://www.beaconsathletics.com/news/2022/9/12/general-men-in-blades-the-journey-of-jake-adkins-and-andy-walker.aspx

About the Contributor
Valentina Valderrama Perez, Features Writer