Running a relay of hope to Boston
Jul 16, 2013 | 935 views | 0 0 comments | 40 40 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In Monday’s edition of this newspaper, we presented a number that carried great weight among those who believe in serving as their brother’s keeper.

That figure was 1,878.

Add 52 cents to this monetary sum and that’s the amount — in dollars — raised as proceeds from the recent “Run Now” event on and near the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway in support of the victims, and their families, of the terrorist bombing that brought horror to the mid-April Boston Marathon.

This annual event brings the globe — and especially its running enthusiasts — to a patriotic American city that prides itself on a love of sports, a belief in hard work and a dedication to country.

Cleveland’s “Run Now” delivered a message of support to the people of Boston and a generous contribution to the One Fund Boston campaign, an initiative aimed at helping those impacted by the terrorist strike. Launched by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayuor Thomas M. Menino, One Fund Boston has already raised some $62 million.

Now here’s another number.

It is 26.

Like the “Run Now” proceeds, it is a message to the people of Boston and to anyone who would do intentional harm to others, especially to the innocent.

This “26” is today’s number. It could go up. It could go down. But on April 12, 2014, from the steps of the Bradley County Courthouse, 26 members — and maybe more — of the Cleveland and Bradley County running community will begin a 1,000-mile journey on foot to Boston.

Participants will deliver a message of hope, share a testimony of spirit and offer a presence of love. And, they will present a monetary donation, one that could reach $50,000 as contributed by local supporters over the next several months leading up to the runners’ departure from their downtown sendoff.

Organizers are well aware of the scope of their mission. In the words of Matt Carlson, who is a member of the “Run Now Relay, Cleveland to Boston” planning committee, it is a “massive effort.”

No truer words could be spoken by this community servant who is best known for his gallant efforts as executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland. Like many of his friends, old and new, Carlson is a runner who took up the sport for health. Like his work with Habitat, he also uses it as a ministry — one aimed at providing a hand-up to those who have been knocked to their knees by the challenges of life.

Another local face, and respected voice, is Fred Garmon, international director of People for Care and Learning whose organization has come to the aid of those in need, both in Cleveland and afar.

Garmon, also a runner, describes the voyage to Boston as a “ ... trek, done relay style, so runners will take turns pounding the pavement so that every step between Cleveland and Boston [will have] had a local runner carrying the message that we, Cleveland, support our brothers and sisters in Boston.”

Runners will cross eight states and meander through several major cities like Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Baltimore and New York. As they arrive in Boston, the final 26.2 miles will trace the Boston Marathon course. They will cross the traditional Finish Line on Boylston Street in a symbolic gesture on behalf of those who could not cross it earlier this year.

Upon completing their humanitarian run on Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014, they will present a check to One Fund Boston representatives. This will occur one day before Patriots Day which will signal the start of the next Boston Marathon.

Those interested in supporting Cleveland’s outreach to Boston may visit this worthy event’s Facebook page titled “Run Now Relay.”

It’s a mission to raise money, but it’s a message to build hope.

It’s a test of a runner’s will, but it’s a journey into the human heart.

It’s a hand on the shoulder of the weary, but it’s a way of saying, “I am there.”

In a changing world too often fraught with fear, no man should walk alone. And in a life plagued by darkness, light awaits at the distant end for those willing to run to its glory.