A Conversation with Duncan Sewall
Elizabeth’s younger son, Duncan, has had a steady, behind-the-scenes presence in Team Elizabeth’s efforts. His mark has been on every rider for every single mile of the Pan Mass Challenge, beginning with the team’s second year ride. He is the designer of the team jersey.
Like elder brother Scott, Duncan has spent the summers of his college years working at Camp Dudley, a beloved institution in the Sewall family, and thus has not been able to be present at the ride itself because of his work commitment. Knowing how passionately Elizabeth felt about Dudley and its role in her boys’ lives, she would not have wanted it any other way. After all, it was Elizabeth’s wish that a song from the Camp Dudley Hymn Sing be part of her memorial service.
In true Duncan fashion, he found a way to add his own spirit and energy to Team Elizabeth even as he has kept up his role at Dudley. This year will be the fourth year that team riders have sported his designer gear, so I thought it would be fun to hear more about his process in designing the jersey. I tossed a few questions to him, which he kindly took time from his Dudley responsibilities to answer.
—Lucy Mathews Heegaard, Team Elizabeth Scribe
Q: What prompted you to design a team jersey in year two of Team Elizabeth?
A: Initially, Scott and I had the idea of getting my dad a Black Dog bike shirt as a Father’s Day gift. Once we got to further talking, Scott suggested that we take a look at designing a custom PMC jersey. From there, we looked through photos and and I found the design studio at voler.com, a cycling company website. Even though these jerseys were a little pricey, we as a family love being able to represent Elizabeth during this fundraiser. It has, without a doubt, been our most influential source of donations for Elizabeth’s Endowment at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. I think our team captain, Scott, has taken excellent initiative to create additional fundraising opportunities.
Q: How did you decide which picture to use of your mom, the design and placement?
A: In deciding on the picture, we knew that we wanted a clear one of my mom that really represented her spirit. One option was a photo that is in our kitchen in Cohasset, where she is seen with her hands over her head in celebration as she completed one of the final mini-triathlons she was able to compete in. However, in the end we went with the photo of her radiant smile that touched every person who met her.
Q: Did you know that the life-size picture on the front of the jerseys led Facebook to tag Elizabeth as another person in the team photo last year? (It gave me goosebumps!)
A. I did not know that! I think that it is a testament to her living spirit that follows us every day. Not only has she touched every friend and family member who knew her, but even now people who have never met her are touched by her spirit, such as many of the girlfriends who have joined Team E. She certainly lives on in many ways, and having these jerseys gives us a physical reminder of who we ride for in the PMC.
Q: A lot of people design team shirts with a photo on back, but I have seen fewer (in my various fundraising walks over the years) that have a memorial photo on the front. I love this placement because Elizabeth’s face is literally on the heart of every rider. Was that a conscious decision on your part?
A: I will admit, this was not the direct intention. In designing this, I felt as though the identification of the Team Elizabeth name felt more appropriate on the back, as that is what people would see first while riding. I thought, as Team E rides in a pack, they would be able to be identified by all. I put the picture of EAS on the front because I thought that is what we are most proud of: her. I wanted her to be able to be the central focus of the shirt when riders are off their bikes, on foot. She is the reason why we are riding. I wanted people to see her smiling face and feel the warmth and kindness she radiated every day.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: I don’t have much else to say about the jerseys beyond the fact that I am happy that I can contribute to the success of Team E. For the past four summers, I have chosen to be working at Camp Dudley and have therefore missed the every chance I’ve had to attend. I am extremely excited to be a part of the cheering section for this coming August! I am looking forward to sharing this very special weekend with my father, brother, and many friends and family.
Countdown: 11 days ’til the PMC ride
$43,000 raised so far toward $85,000 goal for 2017
To donate, visit the Team Elizabeth PMC Page HERE
Donations go 100% to Elizabeth Alling Sewall Endowment for breast cancer research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Elizabeth’s family is grateful for donations of any size.