Boston nonprofits take special note of support from local relay runners
by DELANEY WALKER Banner Staff Writer
Apr 04, 2014 | 779 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Run Now: Relay
DIRECTOR of People for Care and Learning and member of the Run Now: Relay team Fred Garmon is bursting out of his jacket with excitement to start the 1,000-mile trek beginning Saturday, April 12.
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About 7 1/2 days stand between the runners of the Run Now: Relay team and a more than 1,000-mile trek to Boston regardless of weather, terrain or sore muscles.

When the going gets rough, the more than 20 participants will have to remember why they agreed to the long-distance scheme. Prior to the actual running, it has been an adventure, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and a chance to honor the Boston victims through benefitting Dream Big! and the One Step Ahead Foundation.

The goal is to raise $50,000 and split the money between the two Northern-based nonprofits.

Organizer Matt Ryerson said the money will be “split down the middle” no matter the amount raised.

Ryerson and fellow organizers like Cameron Fisher, Fred Garmon and Matt Carlson put a lot of consideration into which organizations to benefit.

“There were a ton of awesome charities,” Ryerson said. “So literally we had a meeting and laid out a dozen charities and narrowed it down.” 

Dream Big! Founder and CEO Linda Driscoll was shocked when she received a call from Ryerson. A nonprofit leader from the small city of Cleveland wanted to raise funds for a Massachusetts-based organization. And not only that, but he and some of his friends wanted to relay run over 1,000 miles to honor the Boston victims.

“I did think they were all crazy,” Driscoll laughed. “But it is so inspirational to see people outside of Boston who want to do this.”

Dream Big! was established in 2010. Driscoll worked with sports-centered nonprofits for over 25 years. She continually heard the same message: Girls from low-income situations and economically disadvantaged communities were not participating because they could not afford the fees, uniforms or equipment.

Four and a half years later, Driscoll said 5,000-plus girls in the Massachusetts area have been impacted.

Elementary, middle school and high school girls are impacted through the program’s three main services: 

- an equipment grant, which includes everything from equipment and uniforms to sports attire and athletic footwear;

- program scholarship to cover an individual player fee to join a particular team or league or a 10-day sports camp;

- and the Dream Big! leadership conference where former collegiate, professional and Olympic athletes speak to middle school and high school girls about the importance of sports and education in their lives.

Driscoll said 3,500 girls were positively affected in the first three years of the organization. She believes the same number will be reached in 2014, thanks in part to money raised through Run Now: Relay, the Boston Marathon and the Boston Athletics Association Charity program.

In addition to the three services provided through the nonprofit, the goals of Dream Big! also include:

- Connecting girls from low socioeconomic backgrounds to peers and mentors as they maintain healthy lives, assume leadership roles and “grow physically, emotionally and socially through sports and physical activities,” and the leadership conference;

- Fighting the rising tied of obesity-related medical issues through the promotion of healthy, active lifestyles.

A long-term goal of Dream Big! is to branch outside of Massachusetts to help girls from economically disadvantaged urban communities across America. However, Driscoll assured work will be completed in Massachusetts first.

Ryerson, Garmon and Carlson will all run in the Boston Marathon on the Dream Big! marathon team.

Driscoll expressed her thanks over the fundraiser.

“I just think this is going to be huge for us. Just in this month alone, we will provide everything from sneakers to softball equipment to hockey equipment and floor hockey equipment,” she said. “We will provide summer sports scholarships. All of the money they are raising will help us with all of that.”

Ryerson said One Step Ahead Foundation founder Amy Palmiero-Winters will run with the relay as it cuts near her in New York.

According to the foundation’s website, Winters lost her left leg below the knee in 1994 while on a motorcycle. She has since attracted international attention with a number of world records, and for participating as a female amputee in marathons, triathlons and ultra-marathons. She eventually founded the foundation in an effort to “provide even more opportunities” for children with physical disabilities.

As with Dream Big!, the foundation utilizes sports to aid a child’s growth in self-esteem, confidence, courage and friendship. According to the website, children with a physical disability often avoid physical “challenges.” This in turn can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety and frustration. The foundation uses events like skiing, running, rock climbing, camping, dancing and road races to provide positive experiences which will aid children as they grow into strong adults.

Ryerson assured money donated to the Run Now: Relay through will only go toward the two organizations. According to the Run Now website, the runners have raised more than $32,013, which is 64 percent of the end goal. Questions regarding donations can go to People for Care and Learning at or 478-7071.