(15-Jan) -- With mass-participation running events on hold, longtime Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray has shifted his event-organizing skills to perhaps the most important race of the 21st century: getting every American vaccinated against COVID19. McGillivray's event management company, DMSE Sports, is now working with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, CIC Health, the New England Patriots, Fallon Ambulance and Mass General Brigham Hospital in standing-up a mass vaccination site at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, home of the New England Patriots. The goal is to vaccinate a whopping 7,000 people a day.
PHOTO: Dave McGillivray (center) with some of the DMSE Sports team at Gillette Stadium (photo courtesy of DMSE Sports)
"What we have now committed to is arguably our greatest mission ever, that is, saving lives and keeping people healthy," McGillivray said in a letter to friends. "Yesterday was opening day as we conducted a 'soft' opening and vaccinated many first responders and medical personnel. Eventually, it is our collective goal to be vaccinating over 7,000 people a day. We will be working seven days a week, 12 hours a day for perhaps six months –-nonstop-– with the goal of seeing everyone in the Commonwealth vaccinated."
DMSE Sports has been retained as the overall operations coordinator of the Gillette Stadium site, McGillivray said.
"It is amazing how our event management skill set can be applied to running a massive vaccination site. And, to think this all came together in only a few short weeks. Matt West is leading the charge for us and doing a great job. Supporting cast is Ryan McGillivray, Aaron Nemzer, Tom Maglio, Tim Barry, Chris Troyanos and Andy Deschenes, so far. As we scale up, we may need to engage additional DMSE personal who have worked our race events for years."
McGillivray said that his firm will also be setting up a mass-vaccination site at Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, soon.
Separately, Jean Knaack, the executive director of the Road Runners Club of America, called for more road race organizers to be involved in vaccine distribution. Knaack wrote on her Facebook page on Tuesday:
"You know who is really good at managing details and keeping people organized? RACE DIRECTORS. I think states and counties need to hire race directors to organize mass vaccination events. Race directors are the people with the skills needed to get this done quick and orderly, like a smoothly run packet pick-up. The event industry has skills that are being underutilized and should be accessed as part of the much needed mass vaccination process."
Like most event organizers, McGillivray's business has been crushed by the pandemic. The work he is doing on the mass vaccination sites is also a lifeline for him and his employees.
"I've always felt that what DMSE Sports does was special, that is, we help raise people’s self-esteem and self-confidence by giving them an opportunity to set a goal, accomplish it and then go home feeling good about themselves," McGillivray wrote. "Unfortunately, the pandemic temporarily put all of that on hold. As a result, we almost went out of business but we are better than that. Instead, like many others, we pivoted."
McGillivray directs the Boston Marathon on behalf of the race owner, the Boston Athletic Association (BAA). The date of the 2021 Boston Marathon, traditionally the third Monday in April, has not been set. The BAA has said that they would like the race to take place in the fall.