In 2019, I'm running the Boston Marathon to raise funds for the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (BCNC).
Why I'm Running
Of course you know I'm dedicated to BCNC and its mission. As the executive director, I'm BCNC's greatest advocate and proudest staffer, so it may not be that much of a surprise that I have chosen to run my first marathon in support of this incredible organization.
But actually, my motivation isn't probably what you think it is.
Several years ago, before I was leading the agency, I remember talking to a young single father - a recent immigrant from China who was recently widowed. He was a student in BCNC Adult ESOL classes, and he had set his sights on going to Bunker Hill Community College. He told me his life's path was already set for him, that he did not think he would ever have a high-paying job in America - but that he wanted to go to college because he wanted to show his two young daughters that they could go to college one day too.
He was putting in superhuman effort to stick with the classes, while working and taking care of his family. And he did it all so 15 or 20 years into the future, his daughters might believe in themselves just that much more.
I didn't have kids at that time. But it struck me that this parent - and just about any parent - would carry the burdens of the entire world on their shoulders to protect their children from having to carry a single burden at all.
This man wanted his kids to know that no matter what hardships they faced, if they set big audacious goals and worked really really hard, they would find a way. Just like he did.
So now I have three kids of my own. I try to model responsibility and civic participation. I aim to teach them kindness and grace. I strive to be live because I got no choice. I want to be the best dad ever, but I am constantly failing.
That's what raising children in this world feels like.
Failing and failing, over and over again.
But you can never give up, no matter how hard it gets, or how sleepless the nights, or how overwhelming the responsibility.
But there is success in those failures, because parents and children get to grow together - and get to teach their children first-hand that nobody is perfect. That sometimes we feel things are broken, but we can also do things to make them better or even fix them. And in showing our children the reality of the world around us - cracks, warts, and all - we also teach them that every single one of us matters. That any one person can make a big difference for the better in the lives of others.
And so I'm running my first marathon in 2019 to demonstrate to my kids that every failure can still lead to success. Every black toenail, every blister, every sore joint, every training run cut short by sub-freezing temperatures. It's all part of the journey to accomplish something greater.
I'm running my first marathon at the age of 40 because I want my kids to see me push myself. I want my kids to understand what commitment means. I want my kids to know that no matter what hardships they may one day face, if they set big audacious goals and work really really hard, they will find a way.
And the reason I'm running my first marathon in Boston and not anywhere else is because I want my kids to know - props to David Ortiz - "this is our ****ing city!"
Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (BCNC) empowers Asians and new immigrants to build healthy families, achieve greater economic success, and contribute to thriving communities by providing a broad range of innovative programs and services for children, youth, and adults.
Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019, BCNC has been a vital presence in Greater Boston and beyond, empowering Asians and new immigrants to build healthy families, achieve greater economic success, and contribute to thriving communities. We provide a broad range of innovative programs and services centered around education, workforce development, family support, and arts and culture, leaving a significant and lasting impact on the lives of more than 8,000 children, youth, and adults every year.