Why are you running to Boston?
This seemed to be the resounding question over the past few months. Why run with a team of 26 volunteers who live with a sense of reckless abandonment across nine states covering nearly 1,100 miles through hot, sunny valleys in the heat of the day and chilly mountains at night?
I have a better question, why not?
This run is not about shedding some extra weight, it’s not about keeping your cholesterol in check, it’s not even for some ribbon or medal to hang around your neck. There is a much higher transcending reason to run this relay from Cleveland, Tenn., to Boston. We were summoned by love and compassion to reach out to the Boston community and offer hope from their Tennessee brothers and sisters, “the Volunteers.”
The moment the bomb went off at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon, the running community was stunned and shaken but not defeated by the senseless act of violence.
Our community answered the call to come to the aid of others, much like we have been known to do throughout history. We have followed in the footsteps of our legendary hero Davey Crockett, but with a new battle cry, “Remember Boston.” We have a message to deliver: love trumps and triumphs over hate, prejudice, fear and evil.
We run with a mission to declare that “love” is more contagious, more powerful and more explosive than any bomb meant for destruction and harm.
We ride in a fleet of vehicles as one runner after another hits the pavement with a determined purpose. Each clings to the words of an ancient text, “Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly, I do not fight like a man beating the air.”
The baton of hope is passed from one runner to the next with the unbending resolve to “finish the race” for those who were unable to make the last 400 yards in the Boston Marathon.
Our minds and hearts are racing as we contemplate the moment we are able to hand deliver the message of love and solidarity when we hand deliver a check for $50,000 split between Dream Big! and the One Step Ahead Foundation. The money was raised by the team and continues to grow as we run through each state.
OK, so now does it make more sense?
Does it make sense why a band of volunteers would take their vacation time and make the 1,075-mile trek running by foot (an estimated 2,150,000 running steps) through all kinds of weather conditions. Why the runners would continue nonstop through the late hours of the night and early morning?
We’ve been summoned to unite with not just those who run, but with all who have felt the crippling effect of someone’s hate and violence. We are a team with a message that no man runs alone.
There is an interesting fact about geese when they team up to take their annual flight. When geese fly in formation, they travel about 70 percent faster. When they fly alone or when a sick or weak goose drops out of flight formation, at least one other goose will leave formation to help and protect the weaker goose.
Another interesting fact about geese is that when the leader tires, he or she rotates to the back and into the “V,” and another goose flies forward to become the leader.
The next time you see a formation of geese, remember that it is a reward, a challenge and a privilege to be a contributing member of a team.
Well, my turn is up. I can’t wait to carry the 3 a.m. torch and lead the next leg of the journey. At the finish line love wins with the battle cry, “Remember Boston.”