I was born and raised in Boston. Not directly in the city, but close enough for my “R”s to somehow morph into “-AH”s. I stuffed my face with my fair share of Fenway Franks and Dunk’s. I spent hours, if not days, sitting in traffic on 95, 93, 128, and Storrow Drive. If you were to mention the Green Monster, The Middle East, the T, or the Big Dig, if you were to sing “Sweet Caroline,” if you were to tell me that something is “wicked good” … we’d be speaking the same language.
A few years ago, I moved to Florida, and while I may have lost some of my accent and New England mannerisms, I still have every ounce of pride for my hometown and its people. Especially this week.
For as long as I can remember, the third Monday in April has always been a celebration. Marathon Monday, as we affectionately called it, meant most of Massachusetts would shut down to celebrate the oldest and longest running marathon in the world—the Boston Marathon. We always had the day off of school, and most businesses would close up shop. Not only would we take the day to celebrate the marathon and its runners, but it was also our first glimpse of spring after a cold and long winter. It was our chance to honor the change of seasons, throw on some shorts, and welcome springtime.
The TWLOHA team was in a staff meeting on this particular Monday afternoon, and we had just finished going over most of the details of our very own running event taking place this weekend when we heard the news. My heart sank, and my only thoughts were of home: “I have friends running the marathon today … I have family in the city …” It wasn’t long until those thoughts wanted to shift toward anger and hatred for those who would try to attack my city, my home, and my family. I did what most people did when they heard the news: I frantically searched the Internet and found video and photos of the explosions and of the aftermath. I was disgusted, and more than anything, I was furious.
It wasn’t until later on that night, as my anger settled, that I re-watched the video on the news and noticed something more than the explosions and the damage left behind. Knowing fully that another blast could still occur, people were running toward the injured to help. The ones offering aid were not only police officers and EMT’s, but also marathoners and civilians watching the race nearby. Later, listings popped up online from people offering their apartments and homes to those in need of shelter. Runners who had already finished the race reportedly ran an additional two miles to the nearest blood bank to donate blood. People were offering all they had, just to help.
I have never been as proud to say I am from Boston as I am now. It is a resilient city with incredible people who take care of their own. Boston is filled with hope and community, and I am proud to call it my home.
These last few months and weeks, TWLOHA has been working on and planning our first ever 5K race, which we are calling the “Run For It 5K.” We are doing so to recognize the fact that physical activity can have a significant positive impact on mental health, as well as to invite members of our local community to run for a bigger purpose of their choosing.
I am not a runner; I own a pair of shoes that have seen less than 50 miles in the last few years. Between that and all of the day-of tasks I could help out with at the event, I had decided not to run. And even if I ran, I wasn’t even sure what I would “run for”—until now.
I have decided to run for my home. For all of the people who were hurt, and for the families and friends who will continue to feel the pain for years to come. For a city whose prestige and heritage can only be overshadowed by the generosity, heart, community, and resilience of its people.
This Saturday, I plan to lace up my shoes and run for Boston.
If you are looking for mental health resources in and around Boston, we have listed a few here. You can also call the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 if you are in need of someone to talk to about these recent events. You are not alone.