Happy Feat

A CFO runs a marathon to honor a boss who overcame cancer.
Kate PlourdNovember 1, 2008

“I’m not feeling too bad,” Mark Ellis, CFO of specialty retailer Michael C. Fina, told us in October. He wasn’t talking about market conditions but his own physical condition: he had just finished a 16-mile run, part of his preparation for this month’s New York City Marathon.

Ellis, 46, ran the race once before, way back in 1993. This time around he has a lot more motivation, namely to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Ellis’s boss, Fina executive vice president Charles Fina, was diagnosed with lymphoma in June 2007 and missed four months of work as he battled the disease. Fina returned to work full-time in 2007, and this summer Ellis decided to run the race as a way to honor Fina’s experience. “We went through some very tough times,” while Fina was struggling with an aggressive treatment, Ellis says, “but people came together. We asked ourselves, ‘What would Charlie do?’ and did the best we could.”

Training was certainly beneficial for Ellis, who lost 25 pounds in the process even as he raised more than $8,000 from almost 100 donors, including business contacts, friends, and relatives.

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On November 2, Ellis is shooting for a six-hour time (he clocked in at five and a half in 1993). “It’s all about making sure that the body can do it. I have an understanding of what the race will take,” he says. “I just wanted to do it to show Charlie how proud I am of him and of how hard he fought.”