Two Hometowns

Nearly every runner who takes their miles seriously inevitably yields to the sport’s intrinsic momentum. You run a 5k; taste success and run another. You feel great; get hungry for bigger challenges. Before you know it you’re training for marathons. Such is the case for Dublin native and Philly transplant, ,John Byrne, who in 2023 will run his first ,Love Run Half Marathon.

Byrne is not only a distance runner, he’s also a former educator, and an accomplished musician. This American-Celtic folk singer-songwriter has four albums to his credit and plays upwards of 150 shows a year on tour. In additional to his regular concerts for the past ten years, Byrne has volunteered his talents with ,Musicians on Call, a non-profit that brings live and recorded music to the bedsides of patients in healthcare facilities across the nation. Byrne brings the healing power of music to bed-ridden patients with hundreds of “personal concerts”. He elaborates on the process, “You basically go into hospitals and play music. Your guide goes into the room first; they say ‘John here is a singer songwriter from Ireland. Would you like him to come in and play a song?’ Then I go in, chat with the patient for a couple of minutes, play a song or two, and move on to the next room. Volunteering with Musicians made me feel good about what I was doing—sometimes what you’re doing doesn’t feel important. Then you do it for somebody for whom it has so much importance and it changes your perspective. Making music can feel like a very selfish endeavor, because when you’re writing it, you’re very much in your own head. Musicians on Call helps balance things out.”

Byrne’s running journey started about five years ago with a 5k sponsored by Musicians on Call. He registered for the race with the goal of completing it without stopping and confesses “I actually couldn’t—I ran about a mile and a half, walked a little bit, and ran the rest.” He recalls meeting some “proper runners” afterwards whose rave reviews about the Broad Street Run convinced him to join the fray and complete the 10 miler. The realization that he could run 10 miles kickstarted his momentum—“If I can run 10, I can run 13.1!” He quickly checked half marathon off his list by completing the 2018 Rock and Roll Half Marathon; it wasn’t long after that before Byrne signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon. “I had buyer’s remorse immediately after I signed up. I’d only run a half marathon and had just committed to doubling my longest distance.” But he’d committed and wasn’t backing out. Byrne cites the importance of the charity component of the races he’s entered with helping to keep him on point. “It’s as much a motivator as it is a great way to make a difference.”

A couple of weeks before the marathon he developed foot pain during his long run. He remembers telling himself, “if I can do my long run, I can do the marathon but I need to get this checked out.” An X-ray revealed a stress fracture in his foot. “Of course the doctor told me, ‘you shouldn’t do the marathon.’ She also said, ‘I can tell that you’re gonna do it.’ She was right,” laughs Byrne. “In my head I was like ‘Let’s go!’ This might be the only time in my life that I’m in marathon shape.”

The momentum carried on. Immediately after finishing the Philly Marathon he signed up for Dublin. “My goal was to run a marathon in each of my two hometowns.” After completing the Dublin marathon this year (it had been on hiatus until 2022 because of covid) Byrne was looking for another race. “I’d wanted to do The Love Run, but I was always touring in the early spring. But our 2023 Ireland tour doesn’t start until May; so I signed up through ,Philly Runs Free. ”

The story of how Byrne ended up settling in Philly bears mentioning since it ties into his teaching and music careers and highlights his desire to give back. He’d visit the US during summers when he was in college in Dublin. “A few of us traveled looking for an adventure, we were all really into American folk music. I was 19 the first time; our plan was to stay in New York.” Byrne and his friends quickly realized they were out of their depth in the New York of the early 90s; and by chance they ended up in Wildwood. “Me and my friend Shane, we’d go to a bar where a couple of dudes would be playing music, we’d ask to play a few songs; and they’d let us. Next thing we knew we were getting regular gigs.”

Byrne returned to Dublin to work, but couldn’t resist the draw to return to the States. “I didn’t intend to come over here to spend the rest of my life, but the chances of me getting my own place in Dublin were zero before the Irish economy got good. So we traveled around a bit playing music. I wanted to live in a city again, had been to Philly and liked its neighborhood vibe. So six of us got a house in Juniata Park.” he laughs.

Byrne had been in the States roughly four years when he decided to go back to college, and some of the credits from his honors diploma from Dublin towards a degree here. He recalls, “I was playing in a band, but I needed something else. I felt like I was dead-ending, and wasn’t feeling fulfilled in any way.” He took a class called ‘Educational Psychology’ which ultimately led him to become a teacher at The Lincoln Center for Family and Youth, an alternative school for kids who have been kicked out of other schools. He taught English for 10th, 11th and 12th grades. “The kids were challenging, but once you understood their rhythm, working with them became such a joy because you really had to be creative.”

He taught at Lincoln Center for about eight years and loved it, which made the decision to leave far more difficult when his 2010 album, After the Wake, caught on and started getting some traction. “It was the first album where I didn’t care about record labels. I was tired of chasing the [record] deal. I’d had enough of getting a deal and losing it.” With the album’s success and gaining momentum, Byrne knew that if “I don’t do it now, I never will. It was a rough decision to leave teaching.” He’s been a full time musician ever since, and now has 25 years under his belt as a Philadelphian.

When asked to share something absurd that he enjoys doing Byrne laughs and says “Playing music for a living,” but then shares his affinity for swimming in cold water. “I’ll go swimming in Ireland. We toured Ireland in March and April and got out to the Aran Islands (in the North Atlantic, average water temperature high 49ºF). I had to get in because the water was so beautiful, a color you can’t describe—not Caribbean blue but more like an icy sapphire. People thought I was crazy. I got in for my swim, then got my clothes on and went straight to the pub where I downed a big bowl of chowder and a pint of Guinness.”

Asked for some parting words of wisdom that have served him well over the years, Byrne shoots straight “I’m not an inspirational quote on the wall guy. Although there are many that I could pull out and say, oh yeah, that’s it. But it usually boils down to being brave, no matter what the situation is. If you see someone being wronged, step up if you feel the situation isn’t right. So probably Make good art and be brave about it. That sticks in my head. Be brave in anything you’re doing.” That’s a good mantra to have these days, especially with so many people in need.

Byrne sees running for Legacy of Hope as a great way to step up. You can donate to his fundraising page at ,

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Dr. Claudia Capparelli, PhD

Affiliations: Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center

Education: PhD, University of Calabria, Cosenza, Italy – 2011

Focus & Impact:  Focus on the role of the SOX10 transcription factor with regard to tumor cell heterogeneity and plasticity across multiple genotypes in melanoma. Investigating how SOX10 plasticity/heterogeneity affects the response to MEKi and anti-ErbB3 combinations in WT BRAF melanoma patients. 

Publications: Publications Link

Honors & Awards:

  • Legacy of Hope Merit Award

  • Outrun the Sun Melanoma Research Scholar Award

  • Unical Fellowship Visiting Scholar

  • International Pigment Cell Conference Travel Award

  • Best Poster Presentation, Ninth Annual Jefferson Post-doctoral Research

  • INPDAP Fellowship for Student Merit 

  • University of Calabria Fellowships for Student Merit 

Dr. Qing Chen, M.D., Ph.D.

Affiliations: The Wistar Institute, The Chen Laboratory, University of Maryland

Education: PhD,Immunology, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, State University of New York at Buffalo (Dean’s Award for outstanding dissertation) – 2006

Focus & Impact:  Focus is on the molecular mechanisms of brain metastasis originating from primary tumors like breast cancer, and the interplay between cancer cells and the stromal cells that populate the brain microenvironment. 

Publications: Publications Link

Honors & Awards​:

  • Legacy of Hope Merit Award

  • Jayne Koskinas Ted Giovanis Foundation for Health and Policy Award

  • Susan G. Komen, CCR Basic/Translational and Clinical application

  • The V Foundation for Cancer Research Award

  • Dissertation Research Award, Susan Komen Breast Cancer Foundation 

Nia Andrews

Bio Coming Soon

Rebecca Blinn

Bio Coming Soon

Carol Sollenberger

Bio Coming Soon

Maree Lavo

Bio Coming Soon

Bryan Lathrop

Bio Coming Soon

Kimberly S. Reed

An award winning international speaker, author, corporate trainer and diversity, equality and inclusion executive, nationally recognized thought leader, expert, strategist and advisor to some of the world’s most influential organizations in global professional services, health care, financial services, consumer products and pharmaceutical industries.

Kimberly is a seasoned leader in transforming organizations into high-performing enterprises and challenging leaders to live without limits, with more than 20 years of HR, talent acquisition, and diversity & inclusion experience; successfully turning around troubled diversity practices by designing, building, leading, and shaping high-performing cultures at global organizations with robust strategies, global employee development programs and enterprise-wide initiatives that have increased revenue growth and organizational brand eminence.

Michele Redrow

Michele is a Director on the Legacy of Hope board and also serves on the Executive Committee.

mary chicorelli

Professional:  Mary is a certified city planner for Philadelphia, a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association as well as the Philadelphia Bar Association, and the Pro Bono Honor Roll First Judicial District of Philadelphia.

Bio: Mary’s insight into the legal world is invaluable to Legacy of Hope, both in keeping our daily operations moving fluidly as well as making connections for our patients and their families when needed.

“Michael reached out to me about 2 years ago through mutual friends. We worked together to help a woman with stage 4 cancer get her electricity turned back on after it was shut off during the winter. I’ve been 100% supportive of Mike’s vision since then.”

joseph ruggieri, jr

Education: Bachelor’s of Science from West Chester University in Management and Finance

Bio: As a member of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.’s upper management team, Joseph brings a wealth of knowledge regarding finances, management, team-building and planning to the Legacy of Hope board. Joseph linked up with Michael, our President, and Wells Fargo began supporting Legacy of Hope annually.

“My father passed away from what started as Colon Cancer in 2015. Cancer is horrible and if there is something I can do to help others impacted I would want to be a part of it.”

David April

David is the founder of the Fishtown Beer Runners, an organization with chapters all over the world based here in Philadelphia.

dr. kevin kelly

Dr. Kevin Kelly leads Legacy of Hope’s Scientific Review Board to seek out and support the most promising cancer research in Philadelphia using a merit-based system.  He is Jefferson’s Director of Solid Tumor Oncology.

greg garber

Greg Garber is the director of Oncology Support Services at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center.

Gina Mancuso

Gina’s experience as the very successful co-owner of CoreFitness, LLC coupled with her expertise in planning special events makes her the perfect Vice President for Legacy of Hope. With energy, passion, and drive that makes her seem superhuman, Gina’s connection to our mission is a personal one.

“Both my father and my dear childhood friend were diagnosed with cancer within 3 months of one another. They were surrounded and supported by friends and family throughout their battle and until their passing. No one should suffer through a diagnosis alone and, without Legacy of Hope, some people would do just that.”

Michael Rowe


Volatile Media Management’s Mover, Shaker, Changemaker Award – February 2017

Miles Mack Community Services & Leadership Honorable Mention – 2016 TJUH Emergency Department Technician of the Year, Physicians Choice Award – 2015

TJUH Emergency Department Technician of the Year, Physicians Choice Award – 2014


With his free time so limited, Michael manages to fuse his work with his other passion: running. Whether it is with the Fishtown Beer Runners, our own Team Relentless Hope, or his closest friends, Michael can often be spotted on the streets of Philadelphia keeping himself fit and active.