BENEFITING: YMCA Greater Boston
ORGANIZER: YMCA Greater Boston
EVENT: 2015 Boston Marathon
EVENT DATE: Apr 20, 2015
Family & Friends,
This is the story of a shy, ghostly pale, Irish child whose mother once left her at the hair salon unattended, only to receive a boy's haircut (one she believed would define her childhood). A story where, in actuality, learning to swim, after-school programs, and a 45-minute bus commute to Camp Yomechas-Old Colony YMCA, would define the rest of her life.
Growing up DOT. My parents immigrated to Boston in the 80's, leaving behind their family and friends in search of the good ol’ American Dream. A three-family in Dorchester was home, and a happy home it was. Dad worked six days a week, with early morning starts and late evening walks in the door, as the proud owner of his own construction company. Mom took on administrative positions, taught herself business accounting, and broke down every stereotype that came her way. Not having the support system that an average family would normally have, while being recent immigrants, my parents turned to the Y for my care. I learned how to tie my shoes at the Y, bunny ears all the way! After-school programs at the Y and swimming programs at the Boys & Girls Club (both at Dorchester branches) provided me with a second family and an early start to healthy living. It would take some years later, my hair growing out, and moving to Canton before I took my next step with the Y as a camper.
Here at Camp YOMECHAS. I still know the words to several camp songs sung on the basketball court at close of camp, or while walking the trails at this Middleboro summer haven. Being pushed in the “Frog Pond” still, to this day, remains a great fear of mine, and though I can’t ever recall seeing any actual frogs, there were tales of snapping turtles that made even me (a teenager at the time) get the heebe geebees. The Old Colony YMCA – Camp Yomechas in Middleboro, MA, was the home of many firsts for me - first time I kayaked, first overnight in the woods, first time I conquered my fear and climbed 50 feet in the air on the ropes course. Legend was that a former ropes instructor stuck a quarter in a crevice of a log, suspended 50 ft. in the air, belonging to the “catwalk” obstacle on the course. Any camper that retrieved it would get a free ice cream from the snack shack; I never got that quarter. The bus commute to and from camp was rough, and frankly, at times, exhausting. But no matter how much I had been burned that day (and it was a lot), or how soaked in sweat, sunscreen, and chlorine I was, I always wanted to go back the next day. Yomechas gave me the full, real, American camp experience, just like I had longed for after seeing “The Parent Trap” starring Lindsey Lohan. For my parents, The Old Colony YMCA branch was much more - an affordable and accessible option to provide me with summer care, and boost me out of my comfort zone. The Kennedy Family will always be a friend of Yomechas, as the torch now passes on to my brother, who plans to be a Camp Counselor there this summer.
Education is a RIGHT. Life has a way of working in odd ways. After college, I joined a consulting firm located in Beacon Hill, one that represents the Y on a variety of issues specifically early education. Things seemed to have come full circle. Here I am, Tina Kennedy, a Y kid, helping to educate decision makers through public affairs campaigns on the importance of Y initiatives and early education in the Commonwealth.
With a strong foundation in running from Canton High School, where I eventually became Captain of Cross Country and Track, I humbly accept this opportunity to run for a renowned organization such as the YMCA of Greater Boston. To run and fundraise on behalf of the Y - an organization that shaped me into the woman I am today, and one that fueled my childhood with so many wonderful experiences - remains second to none. So it is with my sincerest appreciation that I thank the Y for all it has done for me, and what it remains to achieve for the thousands of other children in the Boston area.
Last year, the runners of the YMCA of Greater Boston team raised enough money to provide 11,000 kids with a free summer membership to the 13 Y branches in the Greater Boston area. Help me raise money so that the Y can continue to be the ripple of change, hope, and love in a Boston child’s life.
Much love, TK