As someone who was born and spent more than forty years in the Boston area, my heart is heavy today. Although I am glad that the numbers didn’t continue climbing through the night in terms of those hurt, I am still having trouble wrapping my head around the horrific events that occurred at yesterday’s Boston Marathon. As I went for my run this morning, my mind was constantly thinking about the situation, and I posted that on my Facebook page. Since then, I have also been thinking about how we can best deal with the feeling of loss that every runner and Bostonian I have talked to describes.
Here is what I said earlier:
As I ran yesterday morning, Boston was on my mind – as it was for pretty much every runner. For me it was thinking that as my pace has improved, being a ‘Boston Qualifier’ has become a realistic goal, and how awesome it would be for all of us to take a day to go to our favorite city and have my wife and kids waiting for me crossing the finish line.
But as I got up to go out this morning for what was a great 8.5 miles, rather than thinking about the gorgeous 55 degree morning, the fact that I had been able to try to help my brother in some small way and that he continues to make a strong recovery, and so on … Boston was once again on my mind.
The senseless and needless tragedy, my ability to just go out for a run while over a hundred people are hurt by a cowardly bomber, innocents all, including a little kid. Those who will not be able to run again due to injury or lost limbs, and those for whom going for a run will never be the same. And how when the bombs went off most of the people running were those doing so for charity, people who raised millions for the good of others – and those cheering them on.
So as I ran this morning, I dedicated myself to the memory of all those forever changed by this tragedy, as well as to my brother — improving but still in the hospital — and my amazing family. I enjoyed hearing from so many folks yesterday and each safe voice lightened things a little, but the tragic events still weighs on all of us today.
Here are a few ways to honor those impacted by this tragedy:
- Give Blood – while Boston is all set according to the Red Cross, I am sure they need help in Providence, Nashua, Worcester, and pretty much everywhere else. We had a blood drive in my engineering building at Corning yesterday so I am set for a while … but the sad reality is there is always something happening that means people need blood transfusions.
- Help Financially If You Can, But Don’t Get Scammed – wherever there is tragedy you can count on two things: conspiracy theorists and scammers. I won’t discuss conspiracy nuts, but there are already people on eBay selling Marathon stuff ‘to raise money’, and Facebook sites set up, Twitter accounts, and so on. Right now the only trustworthy site is the Red Cross, according to this report.I have just learned that MeetingHouse Bank in Boston has set up a fund to help the family of Martin Richard, the 8-year year old boy who died, and whose sister lost her leg and mother has a grave brain injury.
- Don’t Stop Running – it might feel like a cliché to say ‘if we stop living due to fear, the terrorists win’, but it is true. For runners, the best thing to do is L.U.N.A.R. (lace up now and run)! It will help us all heal, and seeing people out running will help others remember that while there were a couple or at any rate fewer than a hundred people responsible for this attack, there are thousands of runners out each weekend in every city across the country, and hundreds even in small communities like mine. There will always be bad guys … but there are so many more good people.
- Continue Supporting Races – on the one hand there is an easy thought ‘why make yourself an easy target’? But then do we need to cancel all professional sports? All high school and intramural sports? All concerts and plays and musicals and theater and movies? Close all bars and restaurants? My point is that if someone wanted to set off a bomb that hurt more than 150 people and struck fear and disbelief it would be easy.For anyone who has run a race – or biked a race, or pretty much done anything of the sort — you know what it is like to round a corner and hear the cheers of the crowd. It is amazing — and many of these people don’t care who you are, they are there to cheer on everyone. This is not like the infamous parents at soccer games screaming at 12-year old refs for getting it wrong … running crowds are awesome.
- Do a ‘Memorial Run’ of your own – head to RunJunkies and print out a ‘virtual race bib’. ‘Sign Up’ for the event. Then … go for a run. Gather up a few friends. I have two groups in my area, both of which are having group runs over the next week. Does it actually accomplish anything? Yes – it helps us all heal, and helps to do something with this sense of loss and helplessness.
There is plenty of outrage, anger and sadness to go around, but we also need to be sure to show the cowards who perpetrate these kinds of attacks that we will not quit, we will not, stop, we will not cower. And they will not win.