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Miles of Human Kindness

By April 21, 2009News


Just when I really needed it, I walked into a bastion of human kindness. A place where the human spirit prevails.

I’m talking about the Boston Marathon – which I’ve been lucky enough to witness eight times in my life. This one being the most special because my baby sister-in-law was running.

The kindness starts with over 500,000 people that line the course from Hopkinton to Boston. Family, friends, supporters, fans – of the runners, of the race and of Boston and its community. People set up stands with orange slices and band-aids and water. And we cheer until we can’t talk anymore – calling out names that are taped or written on runner’s shirts. Clapping, whooping, kissing, singing…

The runners themselves symbolize bravery, perseverance, steadfastness. They train, they sacrifice, they feel pain. They’ve made a decision and they follow through to the best of their abilities. No matter how they make it to the finish line – sprinting, jogging, injured, walking, carried. Moving forward because they’re telling themselves to. Because they want it.

  • Like three-time cancer survivor Julie Wescott, 33, of San Diego.
  • Like Stan Vancelette competing in his 33rd consecutive Boston Marathon at the age of 72.
  • Like 48 year-old Paul Gaunt, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease.
  • Like father and daughter duos. School running Teams. Co-workers. Old friends.
  • Like my Megan who ran in honor of her grandmother and decided simply, “I’m going to do this.”

Every year a good number of race participants run for a cause, raising money for disease research or another cause. And the 113th running of the Boston Marathon was no different…but there were some that stood out.

  • I saw a man run by with a good sized wooden pole rising out from a belt around his waist. Waving a few feet above his head, an American flag – and over that a handmade flag that called out the ongoing tragedy in the Sudan.
  • I saw a Dick Hoyt pushing his son, Rick, in his wheelchair – a father son duo that trek the 26.2 miles every year. The cheers from the sidewalks lifting in a loud wave of recognition. And love.
  • I saw a woman running blindfolded, her arm linked to her friend’s and then her husband’s. Her shirt said, ‘Running for Sawyer. Perkins School for the Blind.’ Her name is Leslie Nordin and she raised $30,000 on behalf of her son and his school.

Human Kindness. Self-sacrifice. Doing something, no matter how uncomfortable to help someone else. Reaching a goal. Accomplishment.

Good reminders, eh? I’m a humbled witness.

Props to the Boston Athletic Association for being so tech savvy that you could track runners online and even have updates texted to friends and family.

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • I love Team Hoyt. I saw that the Boston Marathon on Twitter tweeted about them yesterday. They deserve all the recognition they can get!

  • JoanneS says:

    Inspirational!! We had several runners stay at the Colonial Inn for a couple of nights rest before the big day. So many great causes and a great reminder that we are only as strong as the community around us. Thanks for the reminder Julie!

  • Ron Miller says:

    I used to go the 11 am Red Sox game when I was in high school, then get out in time to see the first runners cross the finish line. These days, no way. The Sox games are too slow and the runners are too fast, but to run 26 miles is a feat I just can’t even fathom. A hearty congratulations to your SIL and a virtual fist bump. Incredibly impressive whatever her reason.

  • readergirl says:

    fantastic post! as someone who runs half- marathons, just because i never thought i could, I can’t tell you how much the people who come out and watch mean to me. they are total strangers, yet they are taking time out of their day to give an encouraging word- totally selfless and so inspiring!

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