Sunday, March 15, 2015

The People Who Are Boston Stronger: Meet Lori Tosches and Boston Strong DUCKS - The Power of One

She lives near Hopkinton and she had watched the marathon for years, usually in Ashland - that in between place where runners along the Boston Marathon route rarely see spectators. She would often bring her brother who lived with muscular dystrophy in a wheelchair to cheer on Team Hoyt. Her brother Michael died at age 31 but as Lori Tosches told me, he lived fearlessly and a more full life than some people who die in their 80's. On April 15, 2013, her now older kids did not feel like watching the marathon so she watched on TV...and what she saw tore her heart apart. She knew she had to do something to help.

Lori was inspired to create Boston Strong DUCKS.
Boston Strong Ducks was created because like so many others, I felt helpless and sad by the bombings that took place April 15, 2013 at the Boston Marathon.
I wanted to do something.
It needed to be uplifting when there was so much sadness, hurt and pain.
Tiny little ducks helped Newtown, CT children as they took their first steps to returning to school after suffering enormous loss and tragedy.
Ducks are not only cute, but they are very much a part of Boston. This is how the duck was chosen to be the one to travel and carry our message.
I started sending out 100 ducks with the positive Boston IS Strong message to facebook friends . Now, that 100 ducks has turned into 1000 ducks and that message has started traveling around the globe.
People around the globe can take a picture of the duck and post it on our
facebook page. We can all connect in a positive way.
Boston Strong ducks can be passed along with the message
BOSTON IS STRONG, we will get back up and we will do it together.

She was inspired by this Adidas quote:
"I am a yellow rubber duck."
Runner, from now on you are a yellow rubber duck. You cannot be crushed. You cannot be broken. You bounce back. You will always rise to the surface. Repeat after me:
I am a yellow rubber duck.
When it hurts, I am a yellow rubber duck
At 17km I am a yellow rubber duck
When your blisters burst: I am a yellow rubber duck.
When you hit the wall: I am a yellow rubber duck.
When you complete the marathon I AM A VERY HAPPY YELLOW RUBBER DUCK."

Lori and I met on Facebook and then met for what turned into a 3 hour lunch at British Beer Company in Framingham; a halfway point from where we both live. We shared laughter, tears and felt as though we had known each other all of our lives. Lori has a humble heart and most people aren't even aware that she is the heart and soul behind Boston Strong DUCKS. As so many great people do, she just gets out of the way and lets Spirit work through her. She said that she would not have been able to do what she does without the love and support of her family. They donated the money that they had saved to go on a Disney Vacation to pay for DUCKS and postage.

Survivors found their way to the community of Boston Strong DUCKS and Lori would be on line with them until the wee hours of the morning. She talked with one survivor and helped him through a very difficult night via Facebook chat. She is not a trained mental health professional; just a woman with kindness, love and compassion in her heart. He told her that he wanted to meet her in person and here she is with Jarold Clowery at Spaulding Rehab:

The One Run for Boston was coming to town. Lori read John Odom's story on his support page. He said that he wanted to make the trip from California to be at the finish line. When Danny Bent, the organizer of the One Run reached out to her and asked if she thought of any of the survivor's who might like to be there, John came to mind. She had no idea how she was going to be able to be a part of getting John to the finish line with his daughter Nicole. All Lori did know was that she wanted to change the memory for John and Nicole. Lori and I are soul sisters. She says yes, wonders what she just did and how is it going to happen and then puts all of her love, energy and intention behind it to make it happen.

John Odom was waiting for his daughter at the finish line on 4/15/13 but never got to see her cross because of the first explosion at Marathon Sports. I love listening to Lori tell the story of how everything came together for a moment that turned the tide in John and his family's healing journey. It was raining and around midnight when Lori and her husband Steve helped John Odom out of his car to get to the finish line. Lori's daughter Michelle was an important part of the support crew that evening and Lori was delighted that she could share that special evening with her daughter and husband.

After Lori called him, Carlos Arredondo came out in the middle of the night to meet John and cheer on the runners:

Here's Lori bringing John in his wheelchair to get a closer look of his daughter Nicole coming down Boylston Street:

His daughter carried the relay torch for the final mile and then handed it to John as they crossed the finish line together:

John told her that they created a new moment at the finish line and that opened the portal to healing for him, his wife and his daughter. And when John Odom paid it forward and gave Lori a check to do something nice for herself, she once again paid it forward and bought the mascot costume for Boston Strong DUCKS:

I can't wait to read more about The One Run in Danny Bent's book, Not All Superheroes Wear Capes, which Lori gave me to me along with a tulip plant, and a goodie bag filled with love, kindness and Boston Strong DUCKS:

When Lori heard that Carlos needed his truck repaired, she was going to see about doing a GoFundMe page to help raise money but with 200,000 miles on the truck, it would be little more than a band aid. Lori harnessed a community together to pay for the repairs and help with labor when Neal Bocian, who owns an advertising company that works for Herb Chambers read an article that was in the Metro about Lori wanting to help Carlos. He contacted Herb Chambers who donated a new truck to Carlos and his wife:

The DUCKS are now all over the world and have become a symbol of hope and healing. They are used to spread random acts of kindness. Lori created a post to attach to a Boston Strong DUCK that reads, "I am a BOSTON STRONG DUCK. No random act of kindness is too small or ever wasted. Please pass me on as you do something kind for someone else and pay it forward. You may post a photo on facebook or twitter. Learn more about the ducks mission at"

As we were finishing our lunch, Lori had a single rose with a Boston Strong DUCK and note attached. She looked around the room and said she knew there would be someone here she would want to give it to. She brought it over to a mom seated at a booth near ours and presented it with such love and kindness.

When you visit The DUCKS Facebook page it is filled with random acts of kindness and paying it forward along with survivor stories as they pay it forward. It is a place to gather to spread kindness and good works and come together to continue to heal as we all move forward from the events of 4/15/13.

When Lori began to hand write Boston Strong on little yellow rubber ducks, she had no idea that so many lives would be changed, that she would play a pivotal role in helping heal hearts and souls after the tragic events of 4/15/13. But that my readers, speaks to the power of one.

Journey well!

"Journey Well" and all of my inspirational books are available on Amazon.

"Journey Well" is a book about resilience, strength, courage and how we are able to journey well no matter what conditions life hands to us. I profile the people who are Boston Stronger and share how 4/15/13 was a wake up call to me to return to my healing path from contracting paralytic polio at age 5 and 9 years of domestic violence as a child and adolescent.

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