Their purpose is to remember the tragedy that took place at the Boston Marathon last year and to raise at least $50,000 for two Boston-connected charities, Dream Big! and One Step Ahead.
Last week I was invited to one of the meetings where members of the group had plotted on a massive floor-to-ceiling marker board the planned route that will take them over 1,000 miles to the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The board was a sight to behold. It had developed over several days and featured the route broken up into 24-hour segments at the top. Below it was smaller time increments, historic sites along the way, photo and media opportunities, places that had promised free meals, potential hazards and even a few suggestions for how to raise funds for the two charities. It was evident that the planning of this journey has taken much more time than the eight days it will take to run it.
The community has rallied to support this cause. In addition to groups and individuals who have donated, several local businesses have stepped up to ensure that all funds raised go toward the charities. They include four SUVs donated by Don Ledford Automotive, food and drinks from Cooke’s Food Store, and massive quantities of water and energy drinks from Johnston Coca-Cola. There will also be a converted semi-truck donated by Men and Women of Action. The truck will serve as a command center, stopping at 16 locations along the route where the vans will congregate and local residents can learn more about the relay and its partners.
The runners and support staff who are heading out on the morning of April 12 — about 35 in all — represent a diverse group of individuals from our community. Among the runners are four leaders of local nonprofit organizations, four credentialed ministers, two physical therapists, a physician, a county firefighter, a county school principal, a high school science teacher, a fitness trainer, a football coach, a business owner, city planner and a stay-at-home mom. The support staff includes three designated drivers, media crew and those in charge of logistics and public relations.
It’s important to note that each of the runners and support crew have agreed to pay their own expenses, including a $400 fee toward logistics and administration, most of which will be fuel for the vehicles. There will be some complimentary meals and lodging along the way, but for the most part these expenses will also be absorbed by the participants. In addition, the runners have agreed to independently raise an additional $2,000 to contribute toward the $50,000 goal. All this on top of the training to run at least six miles a day for eight days to reach Boston!
I can’t say enough about these men and women who will be sterling ambassadors of our community. They truly represent our motto, “The City With Spirit.”
The positive publicity they have already received is well deserved and I believe once they begin the news will spread across the nation. It is my hope that they will blow the top off of their $50,000 goal and send another message of goodwill to the people of Boston who have experienced so much over the past year.
There is so much about this event, and you can learn more by visiting the website www.runnowrelay.org. Here you can meet the runners, read more about Dream Big! and One Step Ahead, and perhaps most importantly, donate toward the cause. All gifts are tax-deductible and go directly into a fund to be split between the two charities. Once the relay starts, a GPS tracker will show where the runner is at all times, which can be viewed on the website.
I challenge our local business and organizations to follow the relay team and support the cause by passing the hat, giving a corporate gift or perhaps matching employee donations. It's the least we can do for these wonderful representatives of Cleveland and Bradley County!