HomeEventsDr. William Tan: Hero

Thinking of  athletes who worked with us in the past.

48_fundraising_marathon2First challenged by polio at the age of two, which paralyzed him from the waist down, William Tan has always risen to any challenge. When people questioned whether he should go to college, he aimed for a PhD in research and worked at the Mayo Clinic. When he was challenged about the wisdom of becoming a doctor ‘with a disability,’ he earned his degree and went on to serve in hospitals in Australia and Singapore. When he couldn’t walk, he chose speed instead, setting records for speed and distance around the world. He became a paralympian, participated in marathons all over the world, and eventually set a world record by completing 7 marathons on 7 continents in the shortest time ever recorded! Along the way, he raised over $10 million for different causes, mostly for childhood cancer and other pediatric medical conditions.

How do we know William? He came to Boston to obtain a post-doctoral degree in medicine. He was paired up with Jessie for his first Boston Marathon in 2002.

Ffamilyfriendswilliamor seven years, Dr. William Tan returned every April to Boston. He traveled from Australia, Singapore and Europe in order to come back and race. Each spring for six years, he wheeled in the Marathon as a fundraising partner and personal hero for Jessie Doktor, a twice-relapsed leukemia patient at Children’s Hospital Boston and Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Whenever she was healthy enough, Jessie waited for him with friends and family at the finish line. Several years in a row, he handed his medal to her, symbolizing her own journey through childhood cancer, and her repeated triumphs. One memorable year, Jessie rode on William’s lap and they crossed the finish line together in his wheelchair.

In 2008, after his seventh Boston Marathon, he handed the medal to Jessie’s older sister Sarah, in memory of Jessie (who died in October 2007). He also dedicated his world record to Jessie and other children with cancer.

As of 2009, William was in his own race for life … undergoing aggressive chemotherapy and anticipating a bone marrow transplant with his sister as a marrow donor…to overcome chronic leukemia (diagnosed in April 2009). And yet, he continued to participate in races to raise funds for cancer research and treatment, in the midst of his own struggle with this disease. After recovery from the transplant, William Tan has turned his work toward inspirational appearances and other competitive forms of sports.

To learn more about William and his achievements, visit the links below. Go, William, go! We believe in you. And you will always be our hero!


Articles about William’s Journey through Cancer and Accomplishments:

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