The story of Darby Stott

I haven’t really written about what it was like to run the Boston Marathon, but I wanted to share one story with you about a woman named Darby Stott.

I’m a slow runner (our running group in San Jose likes to call ourselves “a social group with a running problem”). So to make it to the Boston Marathon this year, I applied to the raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, which helps patients with cancer and funds promising research to tackle cancer.

I don’t mind telling you that I was nervous about the Boston Marathon, even though I’d run several marathons before. Boston is the race that nearly every runner aspires to do. And running the Boston Marathon in 2014 felt especially important.

The night before the marathon, the DFMC (Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge) does a pasta party for hundreds of runners and their families. At the party, I heard a remarkable woman named Darby Stott who put my nervousness into perspective. If you’d like to watch her speech, it’s only about eight minutes long:

Darby talked about how she had wanted to run in the Boston Marathon this year after battling cancer herself. About three minutes into her remarks, she revealed that the cancer had spread throughout her body, meaning that she wouldn’t be able to run in the race after all.

Darby’s speech really hit home an important point: to be healthy enough to run 26.2 miles is a gift. Too often we forget that each day is a gift, and not one that everyone gets. I wasn’t nervous about the race after that–I was grateful. And whenever I started to feel tired during the Boston Marathon, I thought of Darby and I felt grateful again for the gift of running. A lot of people felt that way for this year’s Boston Marathon. They were running for Darby, or a family member, or a friend or loved one.

Darby Stott died yesterday.

There’s a quote by Alphonse de Lamartine: “Sometimes, only one person is missing, and the whole world seems depopulated.” I didn’t know Darby other than from her speech, but the world seems more depopulated today without her. I hope her family will be okay, and I hope they know that Darby inspired hundreds of people.

I went for a run today for Darby. It’s a gift to run, and one that I’m grateful for. Then I donated to Dana-Farber for cancer research in Darby’s name, because she was a gift, and one that I’m grateful for.

91 Responses to The story of Darby Stott (Leave a comment)

  1. Hi Matt-
    Thank you for sharing that moving story.

    I was slated to run for Dana-Farber at Boston. But the old tricky knee thing started doing it’s thing come 12 miles a week last November. I bowed out and gave up my number to someone who could make the trek.

    Hopefully you had a great run and met many kind people (who can forget the excitement running by the Wellesley College girls:-).

    Take care.

  2. Very touching and moving, and my heart goes all out to Darby’s family. I had tears in my eyes as I watched this video. Darby was indeed an inspiration and she lived to teach a lesson to make people understand life, it’s value, and make the best of it. Indeed the absence of such great soul darkens our world, but the light of her spirit will show us the way. She was darn right! Every moment of life is a gift, a present that you should accept with all heart and mind. We all are gifted and fortunate in some or the other way, and even if our life is not as per our expectations, we need to be grateful. We need to be grateful for everything, every person, and every event in life! Such a great lesson from Darby, and more important is that you were able to understand and appreciate it. Not everybody does that. Thanks Matt, I’m grateful to you for sharing this spirit of Darby with everybody, and may her soul rest in peace.

  3. Oh thank you so much for the story. Perspective makes a huge difference in almost everything.

  4. Matt, I can understand what you must be feeling right now. It would be impossible for you to believe even that Darby is no more, because special people like her, always stay in our heart and in our memories. They guide us from time to time. She taught you a great lesson, that we must be grateful for what we have and we must try to make the most of now. You are only one among thousands who miss her. Just think the footprint she has left in this world!

  5. Matt,

    That was such a moving story. Darby sounds like she was a wonderful and loving person.


  6. Hi Matt,

    Thanks for your inspiring words. We have the tendency to take everything for granted and forget the little things we do (like having some fun running) are actually important in our lives. My dad survived three cases of cancer and is clean now for several years. We are happy we got some extra time with him. It is a pity Darby and her family didn’t get that extra time, but with your story you put her to life and I guess her family will really appreciate that.

    Again, inspiring words. Thanks for that. You made my morning!

  7. Matt,

    Just as Darby described, everyone involved with Dana Farber was simply amazing while my wife was going through treatment. It is tough to put into words how much this means to a patient.

    Thank you for sharing this moving video and for supporting Dana Farber.


  8. I must admit I take it for granted that I’m able to run whenever I want. You sometimes forget how people are suffering so bravely. My heart goes out to her friends and family

  9. Hello Matts, This is not a story this is a real. and you very well said that to be healthy enough to run 26.2 miles is a gift. She is still live with in our hearts. Such people never die in this world in my thinking. She is great lady and you worked awesome.

  10. Matts– it is really a good post.. because She was great lady!! touched my heart–

  11. Years ago, I worked with Darby. She always, always had that wonderful smile. The quote is perfect — her absence does make the world a lesser place. Her goal was to hit $100,000 for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. If you can help put her over the top, please give.

  12. Great post & powerful indeed. I ran Boston this past year & the tragic one a year ago. There was an amazing energy at this past year’s Boston marathon as it was a day to remember, heal & to celebrate life & freedom. I’m glad you were there to experience it Matt. I’m a native Bostonian and grew up passing out water and oranges every year to the runners and its always been one of the cities most cherished days of the year. Keep running as it’s a true gift indeed:)

    “Happiness comes from being grateful for what you have.” Anonymous

    Thank you,

  13. Matt,

    Thank you so much for sharing this!

    We can all learn from Darby Stott’s presence and we can all turn to her life story as a reminder to live more fully and to appreciate every single second. I loved her presence… I won’t forget her name or her journey.

    Thank you Dana Farber.

    Thank You Darby Stott.

    Sending comfort & prayers to both families…

  14. Darby is my husbands cousin, and remarkable is one of the many words to describe her, loving, kind, thoughtful. While we are reflecting on her life and thinking of her, all of you made us realize how many people she touched, how many people who didn’t even know her, were inspired by her. That is definitely what she would want, for others to remember her words, her story, and how everyone can help make a difference in cancer research. I was so blessed to have known her, and her family and friends are as amazing as she was. She truly was an inspiration and I’m so glad to see her message lives on, and she will continue to inspire others.

  15. Great to see you posting again Matt, and especially about something as important as this.
    I won’t be the first or last to say that the world is getting a little crazier and a touch of humanity every now and then helps us all lift our heads from a daily grind to focus on the big things.
    The important things.
    The golf balls instead of the sand.

  16. Matt,

    Thanks for sharing a touching story like this.

    Yes , She expressed her views about the Dana-Farber on the verge of her life journey.

    Yes, Research on Cancer is very much required what she intended to tell to all audience.

  17. Shannon Sansonetti

    Thanks Matt for your kind words about Darby. I went to high school with Darby and lived with her for a bit after college. My husband went to high school and college with her. We have been friends with her since we were all 14. She is a very special person and will be sorely missed.

    Shannon Sansonetti

  18. Matt –

    Thank you so much for your beautiful post. Darby was one of my closest friends in this world and she is going to be missed so much. You only came into contact with her for a short time, but I can see she had such a profound impact on you, and I know she had the same kind of impact on thousands of others. You and others who posted are so right that sometimes losing such a shining star is what makes us stop, take stock, and realize how much we have to be grateful for and how much we have to live for. I’ve questioned my faith an awful lot over the past few days — if God truly cares about this world he created and all of his children who he placed here, then why would he take away one of his greatest creations, someone who made this world so much better. My faith tells me to believe, but reason for such a senseless loss has
    been escaping me. I think I have now figured it out. Darby wanted each and every one of us to appreciate what we have, to live life to its fullest, and to do what we can to make this world a better place. The void that is there in Darby’s absence is enormous, but if the thousands of us who have been touched by her take that message to heart, then that void will be overfilled. God sacrificed his only son for us, and now he has sacrificed one of his favorite daughters as well. It’s not that the world is better without Darby here — in fact she is irreplaceable — but if our losing her can make so many others strive to make this world a better place, then perhaps it makes sense. I’m hanging onto that, because otherwise I have nothing to explain why she’s no longer here.

    Thanks to everyone for expressing your thoughts and sending your love — her family truly needs it. If I could add one other thing — if you want to contribute to Dana Farber in honor of Darby, please do so using the following link: Darby, in spirit, is still leading a team of walkers in the Jimmy Fund Walk to support DFCI next Sunday, and she is currently the top fundraising walker. We would like to keep her at the top as a great tribute to all she has done for DFCI and for all the people she ever touched, so please contribute directly to her walk page. Oh, and her team’s goal of $100,000 has been surpassed, and Darby never would have been satisfied with that, so we upped the goal to $200,000 — now that’s a Darby-sized goal. Thank you!

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  20. Matt, thank you for remembering my sister. I read this as I am headed to her wake. She has been an inspiration to so many. Her parting words were be sad for today, but live life to the fullest.

  21. Thanks for posting this Matt. What a remarkably brave & inspiring woman! Her courage and attitude certainly puts things in context.

  22. Matt,

    Thanks for writing this. In the hustle and bustle of today’s society it’s so easy to take the small things, like being able to run, for granted. These stories, while tragic and sad, serve as a humbling reminder for us to appreciate all we have. Darby Stott sounds like an amazing person. I haven’t run in awhile, but I will run today and have donated to the link Kevin O’Connor provided above.

  23. Wow. Just wow – great article.

  24. Hello Matt,

    Really this video inspired me too much and the most inspiring things that is “Darby talked about how she had wanted to run in the Boston Marathon this year after battling cancer herself. About three minutes into her remarks, she revealed that the cancer had spread throughout her body, meaning that she wouldn’t be able to run in the race after all.”

  25. Hi Matt-
    Thank you for sharing that moving story.

    In my India, the cricketer Yuvraj Singh won with Cancer.

  26. Hi Matt sir,

    Thanks for sharing a touching story with us,

    I will definitely do a little contribution from my site for Dana-Farber, Thanks for sharing link in comment it will help us to find right place for donation.

  27. This was a very inspiring post. May her soul rest in peace.

    Most of us don’t realize the importance of health until we fall ill – that includes myself. As we are used to the sedentary lifestyle, some of us forgot that we can also run and play!

  28. Remarkable, and touching story it is – awe-inspiring.

    Thanks Matt, for sharing it.

  29. Oh thank you so much for the story. Perspective makes a huge difference in almost everything.

  30. Thanks Matt for sharing. This story has immense power to motivate us as well. I really appreciate Darby Stott’s encouragement and finally salute her…….God will now take care of that………….Thanks

  31. Hi Matt,

    That was such a moving story. Darby sounds like she was a wonderful and loving person.Really Ammezing Post And Wonderfull Work Thanks For Sharing me Keep it Up 🙂

    Regard :

    Leena Shah

  32. Thank you for sharing this story. A friend of mine passed away recently. I call him a friend because in even the few times I’ve met and spoken with him, he was someone I could call a friend. He was a wonderful person. And, now that I’ve read your “depopulated” quote, I can understand my emotions with this loss. I think everyone that knew him feels this way since the world definitely seems more depopulated today without him.

  33. such a moving and inspirational story…
    Such a beautiful post for every one.
    Google need to start a campaign for cancer free world.( It’s my personal view)

  34. Matt, great blog post and a refreshing change from the usual agenda. This post makes me want to start running again. Congratulations on completing your marathon.

  35. Great Story, I love hearing inspiring recounts like this. I am grateful for so much, but I know that I also take too much for granted. I will, as I think we all should, continue to look for those things that we are blessed with each day that may not be forever.

  36. Thank you so much for sharing this story. It was such a moving story. After watched this video, really inspired me too much ..what a lovely personally of Darby Stott…. 🙁

  37. Thanks for article Matt,

    Keep up the good work and I hope you keep bringing articles such as this.

  38. This is really a sad story… 🙁
    because people do not think about these things at all…
    they think about iphones and other unimportant things.

  39. Matt, The video is really quite inspiring. I am so sorry to heard about Darby.
    After reading this post, I realized one thing, You are not as tough as you seem to SEO industry.
    Very less people in this world earn for others or donate for a good work, specially the one who are so busy.
    You have done it when you are on leave, which is really quite appreciable.
    You got inspired by Darby for race, & you are inspiring many for donation by this post.

  40. Hi Matt sir,

    Thanks for sharing this true story with us, its really a motivational think that every one should read and watch her speech, hats off to you and the brave lady. please also update some more motivational thing on your blog so that we can read and implement these these thing in our real life

  41. Sangeeta mittal agarwal

    A sad story but quite inspiring.
    May God give peace to her soul.

  42. I know what its like to lose someone close to you from this vile disease, Its a sad story but its good to see people putting a light on it…and I think if everyone ha someone close to them die from it the whole world would open their eyes to it. thanks for the post.

  43. Thanks Matt
    Hopefully your summer of Matt was groovy:-)

  44. Hello Matt,
    Thanks for sharing the story. Though i am late to this news but its really touchy.
    I saw people around me suffering from cancer, i can understand their life.
    We really need to do something( Atleast helping cancer patients through NGO’s or something like that ) to stop this, otherwise we gonna loose people like Darby Stott every time.

  45. Nothing is more precious than being able to be, to see, to speak and if you are lucky, to put one foot ahead of the other. All the other games we play in life pale in comparison to that one greatest gift, life

  46. Thanks for sharing, lovely read.

  47. Hi Matt,

    Indeed, really a touching, inspiring, as well as motivating article. It’s something really a great moral, a moral value of someone’s life – the true story, a story that inspires.

    Thanks a lot for sharing, Matt. Thanks.

  48. Darby Stott has been a true example of generosity and human kindness. I guess the world would do better if we really took life as a gift, every day of it.

  49. Thank you for your sharing. I cannot understand this video perfectly, because I am not a native speaker, I’m Vietnamese. But I really touched and grateful for this story. Moment by moment, we can be grateful for this gift. I hope this video will have caption soon.

  50. This story inspired me to go for a run today myself… thanks

  51. Touching story and great point, Matt.

  52. That was a very encouraging and powerful video as such. Though I had come to your site for SEO stuff etc but cmon, this thing was way more important. such videos encourage you to keep going on.
    Simply amazed.

  53. A little welling up, for the great woman and for me also. It is indeed a gift to run a marathon, and yet I am not making any move. I will run soon.

  54. Hey Matt,

    Thanks for being a good person to the world. You rarely see people like you. Keep up the good work!

  55. Thank you for sharing your brief encounter with Darby. You must have listened intently to her. thank God for you.
    Yes, she was such an heroic soul! She was my first cousin once removed!
    She mirrored the faith of both and spirit of both her parents to leave this world a better place. Darby was a real jewel – beautiful on both the inside and outside. I am so happy so many are reading your message. Thank you.

  56. Heart Touching and inspirational story. Thank you Matt For Sharing With Us. each and every body can help for cancer patients. If Every Body Donates Few money from their pockets then their is too much money for peoples who are suffering for cancer. Each and every Body appreciate Darby Stott’s encouragement and give a big tribute to her.
    Chinmay Dixit

  57. This is really a sad story……..
    Really Amazing Post… Thanks For Sharing me Keep it Up…..

  58. It is a pity Darby and her family didn’t get that extra time, but with your story you put her to life and I guess her family will really appreciate that.

  59. Very good post matt. Inspiring and touching story. Thanks for sharing.

  60. Inspiring and touching video. Just loved this video. Thanks for sharing Matt.

  61. Thanks Matt for motivating and encouraging us through this story. I am really inspired by Darby Stott, what she did is really incredible. I hope not to repeat this with someone in future. Thanks Matt once again for sharing some good and energetic thoughts among us. Just be as you are.

  62. A really touching story Matt, thanks for sharing this. Each words of Darby on this video is so much true and she was a remarkable and lovely lady. May her soul rest in peace!

  63. Truly an inspirational story to inspire millions. She will be missed by all. God bless her soul.

  64. We need to be grateful for everything, every person, and every event in life! Such a great lesson from Darby, and more important is that you were able to understand and appreciate it. Not everybody does that. Thanks Matt, I’m grateful to you for sharing this spirit of Darby with everybody, and may her soul rest in peace.

  65. This story says a lots of things, we need to understand it. Thanks Matt for putting this type of thoughts between your profession. Darby Stott is still alive in our heart as an inspiration. Great message for mankind.

  66. She was a great lady, may be an inspiration to many people. I pray for her to be always happy.

  67. Thanks Matt. The jury is still out on the knee.

    Hopefully your summer of Matt was groovy:

  68. Very moving. Thanks for sharing. Sometimes we take life for granted, and don’t know what we have until it’s gone. Even after recovering from two knee surgeries, it’s posts like this that inspire this retired runner to get his broken legs back out there and get a marathon ran under them.

  69. May God Bless Her. It’s a really sad but I admired her mental strength…

  70. Inspiring post Matt. Great Story that touched peoples heart.

  71. Well said.Thanks for update.

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  73. Inspiring story, Matt, despite the sad ending. It always makes a difference to see a story from another perspective. Good luck with your running, and keep this story in mind when things get tough!

  74. Cancer research is so important, not just for helping take care of the sick but to eventually find a cure. It’s a challenge humans should raise to the occasion for, imagine a world without cancer. Donating money for research is a good way to spend extra money if you’re fortunate enough to have it, it literally goes towards saving a life.

    This video hit home for me that terminal cancer is actually a more widespread problem than I had always thought. I mean, I knew people got cancer and died, but I was never able to view “cancer” as anything more than a statistic because nobody I knew had ever had cancer. My aunt changed my view of cancer, and of health, when she was diagnosed with liver cancer last December. Unfortunately there are no early warning signs and it had already spread to other parts of her body too, before she ever “felt sick”.

    My aunt was a well respected general practitioner and at 64 she was planning on retiring but she passed away last month too. If a doctor is not able to catch it in time in their own body when they know all the signs and symptoms, nobody is. My aunt won an award for career achievements only a month before being diagnosed and not being one to bask in her accomplishments she was thankful. Her acceptance speech wasn’t for herself though, it was for everyone else, to take care of each other and to focus on health since nothing else matters if you don’t have it. Donate! You won’t be sorry.

    I miss my aunt dearly, as does the medical community and all of her patients, the outpouring caused a need for a second day of funeral proceedings just to accommodate everyone. She was on the board of directors for the local pediatric society, a professor at the local University, an author on health related children’s issues and had traveled the world during her 40 year career just to help others in parts of the world not accustomed to the healthcare we have here.

    I always knew she was an amazing woman but I now feel like I never fully appreciated that, not until I learned she was dying, and now that she’s gone not a day goes by that I am not thankful for the way she celebrated life, not just her own but everyone’s. Even as she was dying she put on a clinic for all of us in the way she handled it. She cried the first day and then decided she would not cry again, she didn’t. She got in the most important things she had planned for retirement, going to the Opera for the first time, etc… and she “turned up the volume to 11 on life” until the disease ran its course. Please, stay healthy and if you have some extra time or money to spare consider doing something that encourages others to do so too.

    Thanks for posting that video, Matt, it’s a more widespread issue than most people realize. You don’t think about it much until you realize just how mortal we all are, and how relatively short the amount of time we have on this planet really is, healthy or not.

  75. I can imagine the pasta party was an emotional turnaround. Matt you are doing great work, We are inspired with your initiative.

  76. awesome post matt, really she is a great woman and this was heart touching !!

  77. We’ve all too often been guilt of taking things for granted. It’s a great piece Matt thanks for sharing.

  78. Thank You Matt

  79. Wow, very moving and emotional.

    Life is really about the simple things, especially love and nature.

  80. I was not sure what I was going to get from your blog. And, this is only the second post I read. I was blessed with a similar reflection just a few days ago. Sometimes I worry that with success, I will lose touch. Reading your post reminds me that we stay as in touch as we choose to. Nonetheless, I want to say thank you (for being human). And, I’ll be back! 😉

  81. My heart always goes out to those who suffer with cancer, Cancer is such a hard thing to deal with, I have a cousin who died from cancer, but sometimes we should take the simple things we have in life and enjoy what we have been given. May those who have faced losses as this may you have peace

  82. Hello Matt, such a moving story it is! “Darby Stott” is just the miracle among different kinds of persons. Her patience, integration and devotion was outstanding, anyone can take a lesson from this story. Thanks for sharing this post as it will will help us to improve our thinking, capabilities and framework. Nice blog post with lots of attention on the development of a person! I like your blog because you share all kind of thoughts with us, your ideas help us as well. Thank-you very much.

  83. Thank you Matt for the great post 🙂

  84. Hi Matt,

    Thanks for your inspiring words. That was such a moving and emotional story. Darby sounds like she was a awesome and loving person.

  85. Matt,

    That was such a moving story. Darby sounds like she was a wonderful and loving person.

  86. Hi Matt,
    awesome post , really she is a great woman and this was heart touching !!