Broadway and West End musical theater superstar Sierra Boggess and her sister, Allegra, a music educator in Georgia, are running in tomorrow’s TCS New York City Marathon to raise awareness and money for the Cancer Support Community, the largest, professionally-led nonprofit network of cancer support worldwide.
This is the second year CSC—whose network partner locations include Gilda’s Club and sister cancer support organizations founded in memory of comedienne Gilda Radner, who passed away from ovarian cancer in 1989—has been a charity partner of the marathon.
An Olivier Award-winning actress who has appeared as Christine Daae, the leading lady of The Phantom of the Opera, on Broadway, the West End and television, Sierra made her Broadway debut as Ariel in The Little Mermaid. A former teacher at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, Allegra is the orchestra director and choir director of Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School, a Georgia boarding school. Sierra is the middle of three sisters, while Allegra is the youngest, with two years separating each; they grew up in Denver.
In a recent Zoom conversation, Sierra said that although running had not been her “favorite thing to do” before the pandemic, she and her sister began running once the pandemic began, as a way to get out of the house.
According to CSC, the sisters credit running “for bringing them closer together while isolating. Allegra began running when the lockdowns were established, an activity that she says was greatly beneficial for her mental health. Once Sierra learned about her sister’s new hobby, she took up the activity to be supportive and feel connected to Allegra despite the distance between them. From their respective locations, the pair would check in on each other’s running progress and offer each other motivation and encouragement.”
Sierra also volunteered at a Gilda’s Club in Westchester, N.Y., a one-day experience she called “life-changing. I was so moved that I left weeping.
“It’s unbelievable how this organization supports not only the individual dealing with the disease but their families as well. I know I can’t do this life without my sisters and I know no one should have to face a difficult period without love and support,” she added.
In non-pandemic times Sierra is normally tied up performing on Broadway or elsewhere; this year, however, she has been relatively free to train for and participate in the New York marathon.
The pandemic, she said, taught her that we “do not know what time we have . . .this might be the only time” she could run in the race.
Sierra also said she had reached out to her friend, Kelli O’Hara, another Broadway and West End superstar, who ran in last year’s marathon on behalf of CSC. O’Hara told her that experience had been “incredible,” Sierra said, noting that she trusted O’Hara’s opinion about it.
The sisters ran in this year’s RBC Brooklyn Half marathon together and then decided to run in tomorrow’s race; training for this, Allegra said, “taught (them) so much.”
“We had a goal, we stuck to it. It’s important to do this, to raise money for the Cancer Support Community is really meaningful. You don’t have to be talented to be a runner—just choose your goal and go for it,” she explained.
“You just make time to do it, put your mind to it because it’s a priority, especially when you know you’re running for something.” Sierra added.
She also said her and Allegra’s parents—who are flying to New York to cheer on their daughters tomorrow— had been “incredibly supportive” throughout their marathon training process.
The Cancer Support Community is a global, nonprofit network that provides $50 million in free navigation and support services to patients and their loved ones at 175 locations, including Gilda’s Club Westchester.