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Remembering Tommy Guano

Tommy was a relentless activist in our fight to end breast cancer. Whatever the task, he always said yes. Whatever the need, he was there for us—with resourcefulness and attentiveness. Whenever, wherever, however he could make a difference to grow our community of support and make his impact, Tommy was all in! His legacy will live on for the life our organization. We honor his life, his inspiration his impact.

Philadelphia Sportsman Helped Thousands Cross Finish Lines

“Never had a bad day in my life and no problem,” were Emmanuel “Tommy” Guano’s mantras. He meant them. Guano’s undaunted and disciplined approach to life led him to be a formidable athlete, coach, and a skilled behind- the- scenes organizer of local and national running, biking and Philadelphia events.  “You never had to ask, it was already done,” said Maria DiBenedetto, producer of the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade, who worked with him for many years. “His work ensured thousands got to take part” said Elaine Grobman, CEO, Komen Philadelphia.

No stranger to adversity, Guano, was the ultimate expert on readjusting to make things better. Beginning his cross-country coaching career in 1990 at Immaculate Heart of Mary’s (IHM) grade school, initial turnout was low. Undeterred, Tom’s joy of running and training approach resulted in success to those who committed.  He made sure that runners’ results and photos were submitted to local papers and winners received medals for accomplishments. Bolstering recruitment, his teams won district and regional championships and competed at the National level. Parents vied for assistant coaching positions. He went on to coached at Holy Family, St. John’s, St. Lucy’s, St. Mary’s, and St. Josephat’s Catholic grade.

A key logistics member of Chris Tatreau Consulting, Tom worked with Chris, Joe Callan and the Callan family to produce 50 to 40,000-person running and biking events. Runners who took a cup water at Broad Street, the Philadelphia Marathon or Race for the Cure can thank Guano. His former wife Ellen oversaw the Philadelphia Marathon’s Manayunk water stop, the most popular among runners and volunteers. When Ellen was diagnosed with lung cancer, Tommy became her primary caregiver, designing her final life course with the support stops that let her complete her life at home.   

Long suffering a work-related knee injury from his career as a meat cutter, his running pace with his Valley Green comrades slowed, but never stopped. Until this past June of his passing, you could find him on a daily five-eight aggressive walk. Supplementing his running, he picked up road biking and open ocean swimming in his early 70s. He competed in boat races and other group activities with friends and family, but only if they wanted to win.

His humor and love of practical jokes kept an eternal smile on his face.  In one instance, he wore a fake leg cast to a Collegeville invitational 10-miler and begged for a handicap from the Organizer, which he was reluctantly granted. Hobbling away from the starting line in advance of the field, and soon in the lead, he ripped off the cast and took off running. He was still laughing when they caught up to him at the first water stop.  

Tribute was paid to Tommy by all those who loved him on Thursday, October 24, 2019 at Valley Green, (next to the Valley Green Inn) Fairmont Park at 12:00 noon.

The above was shared in love by Cheryl Tatreau.

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