Patriots day in Boston has always been about much more then the anniversary of The Battle of Lexington and Concord. It is of course Marathon Monday as well. As a child, my family and I would often go into Boston to cheer on the runners. For a few years, a close family friend ran the marathon in my honor of me as part of the Joints In Motion training program for the Arthritis Foundation. We often brought my wheelchair as a portable “chair” and to decrease my fatigue, so I could watch and cheer the runners for hours without getting tired. I remember one year, when our friend provided me with his medal and I wore it proudly as we walked through the crowds.
Later on, I attended college on the Marathon Route and for many college students, Marathon Monday is the greatest excuse to party. It always falls on a long weekend, is the start of spring and is towards the end of the semester. We would make t-shirts and signs to cheer on the runners, wake up early and start cheering! This tradition often involved many alcoholic beverages, which would only lead to cheering louder.I remember one year counting how many high fives I received from runners, I think it was over a 100 before I lost count.
Most recently “grown up” life obligations have gotten in the way of me attending Marathon Monday traditionally as I have in the past. However, during the year of the bombing I had just returned early from work and was about to turn on the television coverage when I received a call from my parents. They were near the finish line and wanted to know what the news was saying about the explosions. I feel very fortunate that no one I knew was injured by the bombings, but I will never forget that day and the events of the week that followed. Boston will never be the same as a result.
I feel that even before the Marathon bombings, this day always had a way to inspire people, bring strangers together and make the tight knit community of Boston feel that much closer. I always love watching the television footage, not just to see the elite runners race, but to learn about the many personal obstacles and triumphs people overcome to meet their goal and run the marathon.
This year I was touched by the woman’s wheelchair race winner, Tatyana McFadden. Born with Spina Bifida, she lived in a Russian orphanage too poor to afford a wheelchair until she was 6 years old and was adopted by a state worker. Since then, she has become a world class paralympic athlete. This year she rode in honor of the Martin Richard Foundation, honoring the youngest victim of the bombings. During the award ceremony she gave her winners gold crown to the Richard Family.
Tatyana’s is just one of the many stories of people running the Boston Marathon that inspires me and everyone else to not give up on their dreams. Boston will always be my home. Being a Bostonian is about more than the geographical location of where you live, it’s about the spirit and passion of the people in this city. A fiercely passionate, close community of forever loyal people that will make me always proud to be a Bostonian.