CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski ran 26.2 in Boston to honor his infant daughter who died of brain cancer

Last Christmas Eve, CNN journalist Andrew Kaczynski suffered the most heartbreaking loss imaginable: that of his nine-month-old daughter Francesca to childhood brain cancer.

Since her death, the political reporter has led numerous fundraising and awareness campaigns for children battling cancer.

When Kaczynski ran the Boston Marathon on Monday, he also raised $200,000 for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Infant Brain Tumor Program and dedicated each of the 26 miles to a child who is fighting or has battled cancer.

At six months old, Francesca — nicknamed “Beans” — was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive brain tumor. Kaczynski told that he and his wife, Wall Street Journal reporter Rachel Ensign, moved their family to Boston for treatment at Boston Children’s Hospital.

In the interview, Kaczynski recounted memories of walking along the Charles River with Ensign while Francesca underwent treatments, taking their daughter to the “Make Way for Ducklings” statue in the Public Garden, and the kindness shown to him by friends and strangers in Boston. sheathed after she passed.

“We will never, ever forget the good people who were there for us in our darkest moments,” he wrote on his Marathon fundraising page. Kaczynski announced his intention to participate in September, dedicating the trip to children battling childhood cancer.

Kaczynski set his goal of raising money for the marathon at $200,000, but eventually exceeded it on race day. That amount will contribute to the more than $1.3 million that Kaczynski and Ensign have already raised for childhood cancer research through the Team Beans Fund, a page set up after Francesca’s death. After 5 p.m., the total amount raised for Kaczynski’s run is around $222,511, according to the Marathon fundraising page.

On October 11, Kaczynski started a few minutes after 11 a.m.

Most of the stories Kaczynski shared were quoted tweets from previous instances where he shared their travels, all in an effort to spread awareness for childhood cancer.

Kaczynski specifically highlighted a few children who were being treated at Boston Children’s Hospital, not far from the marathon course.

A large majority of the stories Kaczynski shared were those of children with the same form of tumor that Francesca had: ATRT or atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumors. These rare, incredibly fast-growing tumors of the brain and spinal cord affect the central nervous system and are especially aggressive in children, according to oncology studies.

Around 3 p.m., he launched the last tweet of his thread, honoring Francesca by running the last mile in her name.

After completing the course in just over four hours, Kaczynski posted a selfie from the finish, complete with his medal and foil blanket. The tweet was addressed to his daughter, “We did it Beans.”

Grace Griffin can be reached at or on Twitter at @GraceMGriffin.

Grace Griffin can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @GraceMGriffin.

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