The run will be announced today at 6 p.m. prior to the start of the Run Now walk, run and ride on the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway on Raider Drive.
Signups, food and children’s activities begin at 4 p.m.
Twenty-six Cleveland people will run some 1,000-plus miles through seven states in eight days from the “Volunteer State” to the “Patriot State.” The runners are scheduled to leave Cleveland on Saturday, April, 12, 2014, and arrive in Boston on Saturday, April 20, 2014.
The idea of running to Boston is what happens when three Type-A personalities get together. Matt Ryerson, president and chief executive officer of United Way of Bradley County, and Matt Carlson, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland, mentioned it to Fred Garmon just to see his reaction.
Garmon, international director for People for Care and Learning, who is currently leading the effort to “Build A City” of 1,000 homes in Cambodia, admits that he always has to have a project in front of him. He immediately accepted the challenge.
The “Run Now Relay to Boston” quickly grew from a lighthearted challenge to serious business as a show of solidarity and support for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing tragedy and without even soliciting for runners, the group has grown from three to 10.
“Everyone I’ve mentioned it to thinks it is a crazy, but exciting, idea, and they say ‘Count me in,” Ryerson said.
But, he expects some of them may change their minds once they realize the relay is during Easter Week.
The journey begins April 12 in Cleveland and ends April 20, the day before the 2014 Boston Marathon and Patriots Day. The route includes a climb over the Appalachian Mountains and through the cities of Knoxville; Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; and New York City before arriving at the finish line in Boston. The runners will pass through Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
The primary goal is to raise money and awareness — awareness that many of the victims of the bombing will have lifelong health issues and will need continued support throughout the recovery process.
“We want to present them with a big check,” Garmon said. “At least 14 survivors in Boston lost limbs, some were double amputees. Initially, the fundraising goal has been set at $50,000 with 100 percent of all funds raised going directly to charities supporting the victims of this tragedy.”
The logistics and planning of a 1,000-mile run are significant, but inspired by the terrorist attack at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Patriots’ Day — a civic holiday commemorating the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War.
“So many across the country, especially in the running community, have been inspired,” Ryerson said. “A group of local runners, self-titled ‘Half Warriors’ for their regular participation in half-marathons were inspired enough to make a statement — a statement that Boston, that the running community and that this country will not be beaten by fear. They are greater and stronger than these cowardly attacks, they are Volunteers and they are Patriots.”
The bombing was more than a strike against Boston. It was a strike against America and a day symbolizing the courage of Americans.
“The group feels so strongly about this mission, that they are laying down a challenge,” Ryerson continued. “A challenge to communities around the country to take up a similar effort and meet in Boston on April 20 to celebrate Patriots Day, support the survivors of the 2013 attack and deliver the funds raised through the effort.”
A Facebook page has been set up for anyone interested in contributing to the effort, for information on how to coordinate a similar effort or simply offer support.
“Several communities have already reached out and shown interest in holding similar events or supporting the Run Now Relay from Cleveland,” Ryerson said.
Garmon said that 177 years ago, Davy Crockett led a 12-man group to join the Texas Revolution.
“This group became known as the ‘Tennessee Mounted Volunteers’ during the battle of the Alamo,” he said. “However; this name did not really stick until the Mexican War of the mid-1840s. Heeding the call, ‘Remember the Alamo!’ Sam Houston led an army of Tennessee volunteers to fight for Texas independence. Tennessee gained the nickname ‘The Volunteer State’ from its overwhelming response to this call.”
In a letter to his children dated Jan. 9, 1836, Crockett wrote: “I am rejoiced at my fate. I had rather be in my present situation than to be elected to a seat in congress for life. … I hope you will do the best you can and I will do the same. Do not be uneasy about me for I am with my friends.”
In his last diary entry dated March 5, 1836, Crockett wrote: “Pop, pop, pop! Bom, bom, bom! throughout the day. No time for memorandums now. Go ahead! Liberty and Independence forever.”
Garmon said, “We from the Volunteer State say to the Patriot State: Remember Boston."