The One Fund Boston is the primary fund that benefits the more than 250 victims of last year’s bombings.
Marathon Sports running store employees Dan Soleau, Shane O’Hara, and Kevin Dillion were impacted by the terrorist bomb that blew the front of the store apart last April. They were among the first responders to victims of the first blast near the finish line, grabbing running shirts and jackets off their racks to use as tourniquets for victims on the sidewalk in front of the store.
In December, they sent a proposal to the Boston Athletic Association to create a team of runners who would run the Boston Marathon while raising money for One Fund Boston. The B.A.A. accepted, and in January, 50 runners were selected from more than 370 applicants with the stipulation that each one raise at least $8,000.
That would have been a tidy sum of $400,000. As of April 16, those 50 runners have raised $695,000—almost $14,000 per runner. Soleau believes they’ll top $1 million by the May 31 deadline.
“Their efforts have been amazing,” Soleau said. “And the amount of support they’ve received has been amazing, too.”
The team represents a diverse cross section of people with various running backgrounds. They range from a bartender from the Forum restaurant adjacent to where the second bomb went off to a managing director of a large financial firm. Some have run the Boston Marathon before, but many have never run as far as a half marathon. Marathon Sports coaches, led by Spencer Aston from the Marathon Sports Brookline store, provided a crash-course training program, but motivation hasn’t been lacking.
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“After the kickoff meeting, I was immediately struck by how many people had already bumped up their fundraising goals,” Soleau says. “It was really remarkable to see how excited and proud people were to be a part of the team and, as a result, were that much more confident in their ability to fundraise for the One Fund.”
Among the Team One Fund runners is Sarah Schoonover, a 34-year-old engineering project manager who is raising $25,000. Another is Joanie Kelly, a 45-year-old native of Watertown, the town six miles northwest of Boston where the manhunt for the terrorist suspects took place after the marathon.
Kelly, a business consultant, has 11 Boston Marathon finishes to her credit, but she didn’t run last year because she hadn’t qualified and, so, for the first time in 20 years, wasn’t watching the race on Boylston Street. Instead, she cheered on friends near Heartbreak Hill.
“It still sends chills down my spine because that could have been me,” she says in a thick Boston accent. “It could have been my nephew. It could have been my brother. It really hits you when you’re from here.”
Like many Boston-area runners, Kelly was compelled to run the marathon this year, but getting into the race proved harder than she had expected. Without a recent qualifying time under her belt, she approached numerous charities only to find out they were overwhelmed with requests. She was ecstatic to be selected for the One Fund team and has already upped her fundraising goal to $15,000. As of this week, she had raised more than $20,000.
“What happened on Boylston hit me to my core, but then three days later, there was a SWAT team at my front door, literally coming in to search my house during the manhunt,” she says. “But the law enforcement and the police on TV weren’t guys you just saw on TV—they were guys I knew, guys I grew up with. It just hit home in too many ways.”