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Team IMPACT: Meet Jennifer Conner

The 126th Boston Marathon commences on Monday, April 18th, and IMPACT Melanoma is once again proud to present Team IMPACT, which is comprised of a dedicated group of runners that come from different backgrounds and levels of running experience. Each of our runners shares a passion for our cause – which is to spread awareness and prevention initiatives with regard to the incidences of melanoma around the United States, and, with our lead, the word.

Many of Team IMPACT’s members are survivors, family members of survivors, or a person who has lost a loved one to melanoma. Together, along with our partnership with the Boston Athletic Association, we’ve been able to make great IMPACT over the years raising more than $3 million, which has gone to directly benefit IMPACT Melanoma’s mission of prevention, education, support, and advocacy in the fight against melanoma.

As mentioned, each of our team members has unique reasons as to why they’re contributing efforts to Team IMPACT, and, as such, we’re highlighting a handful of them in support of their run, and their campaign to raise necessary funds.

With that in mind, please join us in welcoming and thanking, Jennifer Conner! 

How’d you learn about IMPACT Melanoma and Team IMPACT?

I am on a journey to complete the 6 world major marathons and had yet to run Boston so started looking at options. I browsed through the entire list of Boston Marathon charities and IMPACT Melanoma immediately caught my attention. I always told myself I’d only run for a charity I have a personal connection with and believe in, and team IMPACT spoke to me both personally and professionally.

What made you decide to get involved and commit to a spot on the team? What does said spot mean to you? 

After speaking with Amy about team IMPACT and the incredible programs IMPACT Melanoma offers to educate and support melanoma patients, I knew it was a perfect fit for me. Earlier in my career, I served as a committee chair, board member, and past president of the National Society of Dermatology PAs. During that time, one of my proudest accomplishments was connecting dermatology PAs with patient advocacy groups in melanoma and other diagnoses. Eventually, the desire for philanthropic reach grew into founding the Dermatology PA Foundation in 2015. Though my leadership terms in both the society and foundation have ended, my heart remains committed to the dermatology community inside and outside the clinic.  The opportunity to not only run the Boston Marathon, but to dedicate those miles to melanoma patients and a cause so near and dear to my heart, has inspired me as both a runner and dermatology PA.

Tell us about your day job. How does your work factor into your decision to run for Team IMPACT?

I have been a dermatology PA for over 16 years. I spend 4 days a week taking care of skin cancer patients, doing skin cancer screenings, educating my patients, and treating a myriad of other dermatologic conditions at Dawes Fretzin Dermatology in Indianapolis. I have seen, firsthand, just how scary and devastating a melanoma diagnosis can be for patients and their families. I have spent hours educating my patients on what to look for, how to prevent melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer, and what to expect when we do find something worrisome. Team IMPACT’s mission parallels that of my own as a dermatology PA and advocate for melanoma patients.

How many marathons have you run in the past? What do you take away from these experiences?

I have run 10 marathons thus far, including 4 world majors (Chicago, Berlin, London, and NYC).  When I ran my first marathon, I intended for it to be a one and done but walked away wondering what else I had to give and felt invigorated by the challenge. This journey and each race teaches me so much about myself. You truly learn what you are made of when you’ve given your all mentally and physically, yet still have to push on to the finish. Overall though, the most important thing that keeps me coming back to the marathon and running in general, is the people. There isn’t a community more supportive of one another and I am incredibly thankful for the people this sport has brought into my life.

I know it’s hard to predict, but how do you think this particular run will stack up (from a philosophical/humanitarian/or just straight physical point of view)?

I know the Boston course is challenging, and I fully expect the Newton hills to humble me beyond belief, but also get chills just thinking about being on this course. I have also been blown away by my colleagues, friends, and family in supporting my fundraising goals with team IMPACT, so these miles are extra special. I get to run the most prestigious marathon in the world, help raise awareness for melanoma, earn my 5th world marathon majors star, and have an army of supporters behind me that have believed in me every step of the way. Every time a training run gets tough, I think about one of my melanoma patients or the many people who have supported this journey and find the strength to dig a little deeper.

What is your personal stance / battle cry with regard to skin cancer and taking care of one’s skin?

Wear sunscreen and protect your skin EVERY single day, rain or shine, winter or summer. Educate yourself on what to look for and see a dermatologist or trained dermatology PA/NP yearly for a skin check, even if you don’t think you need it.  Prevention, screening, and early intervention are key!

What’s your pre-race ritual? Some sort of specific cuisine the night before? Specific stretching routine? Special socks? You tell us! 

I start increasing my carb intake 2-3 days ahead of race day and stick with a bland pasta dish the night prior. I lay out my race kit the night before and probably check no less than ten times that I have everything I need. I typically run in the cutest, most comfortable skirts made by Bolder Athletic. They have compression shorts with pockets underneath to hold my fuel and anything else I need. I learned after doing a number of races at Disney World that cute, comfortable, and functional helps me feel my best on race day, so you’ll see me on the Newton hills in a sparkly skirt!

To get involved and make a donation:

Visit Jennifer’s runner profile here to help her reach her personal goal:

Visit our Team IMPACT profile page here:

Learn About Melanoma

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