Bronze Plaque unveiled to commemorate the start of Dave Mcgillivray’s Historic Cross-Country Run
February 25, 2020
MEDFORD, Oregon – Nearly 42 years after he took the initial steps of what would be his historic 3,452-mile cross-country journey, Dave McGillivray returned to Medford, OR, for the unveiling of a commemorative bronze plaque outside Medford City Hall and a jog around memory lane.
The celebration began with a 5K run along the same streets McGillivray ran when he began his cross-America run in 1978. Present for the run were Jerry Swartsley, who was a member of the local running club Oregon Sizzlers and whoaccompanied McGillivray for those first 17 miles in 1978, and former Medford Mayor Al Densmore.
A ceremony followed at Medford City Hall that included a proclamation from Medford Mayor Gary Wheeler, declaring February 13, 2020, as “Dave McGillivray Day.” Wheeler then dedicated and unveiled the bronze plaque that will be placed in front of City Hall, commemorating McGillivray’s start of his cross-America run in Medford, OR. The inscription reads: “In Celebration—David McGillivray’s 3,452-mile run. Medford, OR, to Medford, MA. 40th anniversary 1978-2018.”
In return, McGillivray presented the former and current Medford mayors—as well as Swartsley and his wife Zellah—with copies of his recently published children’s book, Running Across America, which chronicles the 1978 run. The first few pages of the book have illustrations of his start in Medford.
“For the Boston Marathon, it all starts in Hopkinton,” McGillivray said. “For me, it all started in Medford, OR. I have to put this past Thursday’s experience way, way up with some of the greatest and most memorable experiences I have ever had in my life.”
Later that evening, he served as the keynote speaker at the Southern Oregon Sports Commission annual banquet—an event for top young athletes, their parents, and their coaches. In support of their scholarship program, “Know Your Role,” McGillivray, on behalf of the DMSE Foundation, made a donation of $2,500 to the Commission, which they later presented to a young athlete. The Know Your Role program is committed to changing the culture of youth sports and has developed a campaign to help promote good sportsmanship among athletes, parents, coaches, and referees.
Nearly 42 years ago, McGillivray, 65, now a renowned race director, motivational speaker, philanthropist, and endurance athlete, was a 23-year-old recent Merrimack College graduate from Medford, MA, determined to achieve his dream of running across the country to raise money for charity. He set out on his Run Across America on June 11, 1978, in Oregon, crossing the Nevada desert, Rocky Mountains, and passing cornfields of the Midwest before completing the improbable trek 80 days later, on August 29, in his hometown. Later that night, he made a triumphant run into Fenway Park to a standing ovation from 32,000 fans, running several laps. That summer, he raised $100,000 for the Jimmy Fund of Boston, the fundraising arm of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
McGillivray and later his event management company, DMSE Sports, became pioneers in what is now one of the most important aspects of the endurance sports industry – combining athletics with philanthropy. Runner’s World magazine said his 1978 achievement was one of first times someone integrated running with fundraising for cancer research. He and the races he has managed through DMSE Sports have raised millions for charity over the years.
McGillivray, who lives in North Andover, MA, is also known as an inspirational speaker who gives talks to schoolchildren and a variety of groups throughout the country. His first children’s picture book, “Dream Big,” is about his first attempt at running the Boston Marathon and is based on his 2006 autobiography, “The Last Pick,” which intimately recounts the mental and physical obstacles McGillivray faced that led to his 1978 cross country run. His story has inspired countless people to reach their own goals. In 2019, McGillivray published his second children’s illustrative book titled “Running Across America,” which chronicles his 1978 run. Proceeds from the new book will benefit the Jimmy Fund.
About the Jimmy Fund
The Jimmy Fund solely supports Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, raising funds for adult and pediatric cancer care and research to improve the chances of survival for cancer patients around the world. Since its founding in 1948, the Jimmy Fund has raised millions of dollars through thousands of community fundraising events. Find more information at www.jimmyfund.org.
About DMSE Sports
Founded by Dave McGillivray in 1981, DMSE Sports is a leader in sports event management, specializing in creating and producing mass participatory athletic events throughout the U.S. and abroad. The organization manages the operations and logistics for events such as TD Beach to Beacon in Maine, the New Balance Falmouth Road Race on Cape Cod, the lululemon San Diego 10K, the Harvard Pilgrim Finish at the 50 at Patriot Place, and the Bellin Run 10K in Green Bay, Wisconsin, among others. For additional information about DMSE Sports, visit www.dmsesports.com or find DMSE on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.