On April 21st, I will run my 4th Boston Marathon. More than ever, this past year has strengthened my belief that everyone, especially children, needs and deserves a family and safety network. In celebration of and in gratitude for my family, I am running for the Plummer Home for Boys in Salem, MA. Plummer Home gives children the support necessary to successfully navigate to healthy adulthood and strives to find them permanent families before they leave the foster care system. Please join me in supporting Plummer Home because children need families.
Anyone who has experienced Boston on Patriots' Day knows what an amazing, fun-filled, joyous day it is. With the Boston Marathon, the Red Sox playing at Fenway and the mischievous feeling of playing hooky from work and school, it is Boston at its best. From Hopkinton to Boston, spectators line every inch of the 26.2 miles offering support in so many forms: cheers and orange slices, screams and kisses, beers and high fives. And nothing beats that glorious moment when the Citgo sign comes into view and pain is eclipsed by the sheer joy of coming home.
On April 15th, 2013, I ran my 3rd Boston Marathon with Dana Farber in memory of my father-in-law, Tom Maloney who had lost his battle with cancer the previous spring. Approaching the finish line, I was looking forward to running that last, sweet stretch of Boylston Street with my three children, Maeve (11), Aidan (11) and Declan (5) and crossing the finish line together. This had become our family tradition and for the first time Declan was going to join the big kids.
Unfortunately, we didn't cross the finish line that day. When the marathon clock hit 4:09:43, my family was on Boylston Street about a block from where the first of two explosions rocked the finish line. I was stopped on the course at mile 25.5. Thankfully, despite hearing the explosions, seeing glass shattering and being directly in the path of thousands of fleeing bystanders, my family was spared from viewing the unthinkable carnage. And most importantly none of us were physically harmed. My quick-thinking husband and brother calmed the kids and got them to a safe area away from the crowds and chaos and luckily got a call through to me on the marathon course. We were able to meet up and get out of the city relatively quickly.
Over the next few days, we realized how truly fortunate we were. The more we learned, the more the "what ifs" became too horrifying to imagine. Our hearts were heavy for those who were lost or injured but also full of gratitude for having been spared. We left Massachusetts on a family vacation, isolated ourselves from all media regarding the horrible events of Marathon Monday and steeped ourselves in the simple yet priceless joy of family togetherness.
Over the following weeks and months, it became clear that each of us in our own way was struggling with the events of April 15th. Nightmares, panic attacks, fears of being away from each other, nervousness in crowds… Fully aware of the devastation caused by those two bombs, Jamie and I couldn't shake the horrible feeling of "what if". While we weren't physically harmed, our souls were shaken. Loud noises caused Declan to startle in true, visceral panic. Offers of play dates and invitations to birthday parties were declined as he resisted leaving my side. My first post-marathon race in May had me jittery and tearful. Away from my family for a night for the first time since April 15th, I was plagued with nightmares.
As a family, we decided we needed to take the finish line back from the bad guys and reclaim our tradition of crossing the finish line together, not only to heal our souls but also to refresh our spirits. Having run for charities in the past, I knew that running for a cause dear to my heart made the winter training and the ultimate 26.2 miles much more tolerable and meaningful. Therefore, in gratitude for the strength and love of my family and in recognition of the close family bond that has been critical in enabling us to heal after the horrifying events of April 15th, 2013, I am running for The Plummer Home for Boys in Salem, MA.
Plummer Home serves boys and girls who have bounced around the foster care system for most of their lives. Plummer operates a group home and on-site apartment for 16 young men, community apartments for young men and women, and a foster care program for older youth and teens. All of these children are on-track to leave the state’s child welfare system with no permanent family. If this happens, the odds that they will become homeless, unemployed or incarcerated are high.
It is unfathomable to me that children who enter the foster care system can go through their entire childhood without ever finding the stability and security of a family that will be with them forever. Plummer Home is working to change this with services that heavily emphasize finding permanent families while teaching skills and connecting youth with community. The stories of these young people and Plummer’s work are incredibly moving.
Last year, my family underwent a deeply distressing experience that impacted each of us. Our healing is possible because we have one another. Everyone, and especially children, need and deserve such a family and safety network. Please join me in supporting Plummer Home by donating to my marathon run. Your gift will support things small and large such as holiday gifts, athletic fees, camping trips and therapy. Because Children Need Families.
By donating through this site, a small portion of your gift will be withheld to pay for processing costs. If you prefer to donate by check, send to Plummer Home for Boys, 37 Winter Island Road, Salem, MA 01970. It all counts toward my goal!
Gifts are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.