When Matthew Larson was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor called choroid plexus carcinoma at the age of 2, he and his family faced a long road of daunting treatments and an unknown future. Matt would spend several months in the hospital as he endured a variety of treatments including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. After nearly three years in remission, Matt had a recurrence. Despite further treatment, he succumbed to his cancer in 2007. With his passing, a new fight sprang in his honor. Matt’s family founded The Matthew Larson Foundation for Pediatric Brain Tumors - also known as IronMatt - to spread awareness and to provide resources to children and their families as they battle brain tumors. Over the last 10 years, the foundation has provided financial assistance and emotional support to dozens of families in their time of need.
The Flink family during another charity run. In Photo: Arlene, Max, Olivia, Gary, and Francesca. Not Pictured: Carly.
Team IronMatt was born out of Matt’s love of sports and relentless spirit. This fall, Team IronMatt will be represented at the New York City Marathon by Olivia Flink, former Excel aide and daughter of Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Gary Flink. “My family is very close with the Larson family and I was only one year older than Matthew,” said Olivia.
Pediatric brain tumors are the number one cancer related cause of death in children aged 0 to 19 according to the National Brain Tumor Society, so while the upcoming marathon is personal for Olivia, she also sees it as an opportunity to make a bigger impact. “Two of my grandparents have passed due to cancer and I have witnessed its painful effects on them and my family. They had lived long, full lives, but the children fighting pediatric cancer have many more years of life to experience and their families have many more years to spend with them. Representing IronMatt means using the physical abilities I often take for granted to help the children and families who are using all their strength to fight for their lives against cancer.”
“EXCEL Physical Therapy has been supporting the IronMatt cause for nearly a decade with a tremendous amount of pride, and now with my daughter Olivia running, it just makes it that much more special to me personally,” added Gary.
Olivia is not the only EXCEL team member training for the grueling course for a cause. Tina Gibble, daughter of Co-Founder and President, Matt Gibble, will also be taking to the streets of NYC this November. Her cause and story to come…