Friday, April 10, 2015

Fundraising Friday: Meet the Fabulous Five Running for the Arredondo Family Foundation

Photos by Liz Feitelberg Photography

On Monday evening, I was blessed to attend the launch of the Arredondo Family Foundation whose mission is to "provide a helping hand to those experiencing a tragedy and to provide education on matters relating to military, veterans, military families and the issue of suicide."

When Melida Arredondo emailed Tom Grilk, the executive director of the BAA letting him know about the Foundation and asking about numbers she was inquiring about getting numbers for 2016. She was astounded when he said that he put 3 numbers in the mail for the Foundation for this year's marathon!

Rachel Cooper writes on her fundraising page:

This year, on April 20, 2015, I run again.
Boston cannot be stopped. The river runs.

Rachel ran and completed the 2013 marathon shortly before the tragedy happened. She was waiting in Starbuck's for her sister when the bombs went off. Rachel is a 24-year-old lab tech and public health educator who plans to attend medical school. From Carlos Arredondo, Marathon bombing good Samaritan, launches charity with boost from Hadley woman:

When the bombs went off at the Boston Marathon in 2013, Rachael Cooper's first thought was that a car had backfired.

Her second was about her sister, Madeline, who had not yet reached the Starbucks, two blocks from the finish line, where they had agreed to meet after the race.

"Somewhere in there I realized my sister was not standing next to me," said Cooper, a Hadley resident. "I thought, I need to find her now. If that means running towards the finish line, fine."

She felt a touch on her arm and turned to see Madeline; they had finished the race minutes apart. They moved through the chaos to their uncle's apartment near the Boston Common, and to safety. But for Rachael, the day left a scar.

Cooper spent a year not talking about the attack; "I really didn't want it to be something I needed to deal with," she said. But she ran the marathon again in 2014, despite a twinge of nervousness as she turned onto Boylston Street. And this year, she will be facing the bombing head on, with the goal of helping others.

Donate to Rachel's run by following this link.

Andrea Hart was at the finish line when the 2013 marathon bombings occurred. She is a Northeastern University graduate who lives in Boston.

Over the years I have competed in numerous races of all distances, but of course the most arduous is the marathon. I am honored to run for the Arredondo Family Foundation this year and I support the cause 100%.

After being at the 2013 Boston Marathon finish line and seeing the city that I called home for six years torn by the actions of few made me realize how important solidarity and understanding are. The creation of the Arredondo Family Foundation following the marathon tragedy is the boldest statement of perseverance and unrelenting positive social change and I can’t wait to be a part of it in this year’s marathon!

Soldiers run the race, but often times never cross the finish line. Today I run for those who cannot run themselves in total gratitude for the safety and security that they provide and for the struggle of those whose loved ones are lost to war.

“After the guns have fallen silent, and the din of battle quietened, the real fight begins.”

You can support Andrea's run via her fundraising page by following this link.

Brian Malone is a 34-year-old Board Member and Fundraising Chair for the Arredondo Family Foundation. A manager in financial services, Brian is a youth football coach and President of The Great American Foundation, a non-profit that raises money from social events to support local charities. An avid runner, who has completed several half marathons, Brian will be running his first marathon on 4/20/15.

I am proud to announce on April 20th I will be running my first Boston Marathon and doing so to support my friends Carlos and Melida Arredondo as they introduce the Arredondo Family Foundation.

I am running to honor their story and raise funds that will have direct impacts to families who are experiencing tragedies similar to theirs. The foundation will also build educational programs to recognize and prevent youth suicide.

I am very excited to be training and running for this cause and thank you for your support and for sharing the 26.2 mile experience with me!

Support Brian's first marathon run by donating to his fundraising page via this link.

So I mentioned they received 3 numbers from the BAA but that there are five fabulous people running for the Foundation.

Do you remember the story of the shoveler at the Boston Marathon finish line?

Chris Laudani told Boston Magazine, “I only did it to send a message…I love the Boston Marathon and everything it stands for, the finish line doesn’t deserve to be covered in snow.”

Chris recalled the day of the blizzard as we spoke at Monday night's launch for the Foundation:
"I was told to come into the work because my manager thought we'd probably be busy since none of the area hotels would have food service available. I came in and I'd been shoveling out in front keeping the entry way clear. Nobody came in so my manager sent me home but as I looked down Boylston Street, I grabbed the shovel and went out to shovel off the finish line."

Adidas gave him a number for his actions and Chris told Adidas that he doesn't run alone. If he got a number then they'd have to give a number for his brother Greg. The two of them ran the 2013 Boston Marathon together and were stopped just shy of Boylston Street when the bombs went off. He was inspired by Carlos after meeting him, and knew that he wanted to put the bibs that Adidas gave for his brother and him to run Boston to raise money for this great cause.

Chris Laudani is a 25-year-old graduate of Suffolk University and Bartender at the Back Bay Social Club just down the street from the finish line.
My name is Chris Laudani, and I am the guy who shoveled out the Boston Marathon finish line. Adidas gave my brother and I free entry into the 2015 Boston Marathon, which is an honor and a pleasure.. But we want to use this opportunity to give back. We are rasing money to help support the Arredondo Family Fund.

You may have heard of Carlos Arredondo, he is "the man in the cowboy hat" from the pictures at the 2013 Boston Marathon finish line. If you couldn't tell by his acts of courage and bravery, Carlos is one of the kindest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. He is also extremely down to earth and just the sweetest guy. His story briefly: in 2004 one of his sons Alex was killed in the Iraq war. The family was stricken by grief and despair, especially Alex's only brother and Carlos's other son Brian. In 2011 Brian took his own life.

This tragedy has not stopped Carlos and his wife Mel from being two wonderful people. Instead of curling up and giving up when all was lost, they fought back. The Arredondo family fund (where all this money is going) is to help people who have lost loved ones in war, to help them get the care and support they may need to keep going. No one should have to go through that alone. A portion of the money is also used to sponsor a scholarship started in the Arredondo brothers' names, to help kids through school and to stay on the right track.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I am so privileged to say that you may of heard of me and that I can use this opportunity to give something back. Together we can make a real difference in real people's lives. What greater gift is there? Be sure to come out Marathon Monday (4/20/15) and give out high fives to the runners!!

With the deepest of gratitude, Chris

Support Chris' third Boston Marathon run by donating to his fundraising page via this link.

From Chris' younger brother, Greg Laudani:

It has been an unbelievable last few months to say the least. After Chris shoveled the finish line, he sent me a picture of it and I thought it was the coolest thing. He is so creative and always finds ways to inspire people in simple ways like this. His love of the race inspired me to start running Boston, and having run in 2013 and last year I feel like I will always be connected to this amazing community associated with the race.

But shortly after Chris got all his publicity in early February, Adidas offered him an entry for this year’s race. He said he would only run with them if they gave him two numbers – that way the two of us could run together. There aren’t enough words I could say to describe how excited I am to be running Boston with my brother. He is my inspiration to do extraordinary things in my life, as he is a person who never ceases to inspire others to live life to the fullest. And his shoveling the finish line is just one example of how genuine he truly is. He didn’t think anything of it, so that’s why I think people have shown so much love and appreciation for Chris. He does things that feel right to him – not to get attention.

After getting entries with Adidas, Chris asked me if I’d be interested in raising money for the Arredondo Family Foundation. I said absolutely yes. I had heard so much about Carlos and Mel and how amazing they are. And of course, I knew about how Carlos saved Jeff Bauman’s life during the bombings. The Arredondos are incredible people – two of the most caring, genuine and humble I’ve ever met. I want to do anything I can to support the Arredondo family. They are a wonderful family and their cause for assisting in suicide prevention and supporting veterans is something that our country should be paying more attention to.

Training this winter was rough between the crazy winter and my knee injury. I have run fewer miles than when I’ve trained for Boston in the past, but I know that Chris and I will finish this thing together no matter what. I injured my knee back in November 2013, so I’ve been cautious with it ever since. So even though I haven’t put in as much training as I would’ve liked, I’ll be ready come race day. I get goose bumps just thinking about Marathon Monday. Being out on the course with all the energy and enthusiasm will carry me when my legs start getting tired.

It’s hard to think of one thing I’m most excited for. I just can’t wait to experience the energy of race day again. I can’t wait to be a part of such an inspiring and powerful event. I can’t wait to high-five all the families that come out and line the course. I can’t wait to be out there again with Chris. I can’t wait to throw my hands in the air to pump up the crowd. And I can’t wait to cross that finish line again. Chris and I finished together last year. We battled through many tough miles and stuck together throughout the entire 26.2 miles. It was an awesome experience and something I’ll never forget. I can’t wait to get out there and do it again on April 20.

And this heartfelt message from his fundraising page:
The Arredondo family represents how we can all be strong in the midst of tragedy. And the Arredondo Family Foundation will do exactly that – lend a helping hand to lift struggling individuals and families. Every single donation will make a difference in someone’s life. And every bit of generosity can travel a long way in this world. Together, we can make an enormous difference.

With the deepest of gratitude, Greg

Please donate what you can to support Greg's Boston Marathon run by following this link to his fundraising page.

So there you have it my dear readers. Five fabulous people running the 2015 Boston Marathon one week from Monday to support the Arredondo Family Foundation. Give a little, give a lot, share with your friends and let's launch this Foundation with money and love sending Carlos and Mel and all the foot soldiers who will join their passionate efforts to make a difference in the lives of so many affected by tragedy, trauma and suicide. They plan to work ceaselessly to prevent suicide among the veteran population and to support the siblings of veterans. As Carlos so poignantly told Channel 7 News:
"We know what we went through and we want to make sure we are there for other families... We are losing 22 veterans a day by suicide and every little bit we can get to help the veterans and the families, I'm down for that." As Carlos addressed the audience at the launch he said, "If Brian had something like this, maybe he would be alive today."

Photo by Tanya Maxham Photography

Journey well!

My latest book, "Journey Well" is now available on Amazon along with all of my inspirational books. 50% of book proceeds are donated to the Massachusetts Resiliency Center, a safe, welcoming space for survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing to heal and stay in touch with one another; a virtual hub for a widely dispersed community whose lives have been impacted by the tragic events of April 15th and the events that followed.

When terror struck the world's oldest and most beloved marathon on April 15, 2013, it was a defining moment in Mary McManus’ life and the lives of all those in Boston and around the world. It was her wake up call to return to the sport and community that have been medicine and a lifeline for her throughout her marathon of healing the late effects of paralytic polio and experiencing 9 years of domestic violence as a child and adolescent. Mary captures the essence of Boston Strong through her experience of the 2014 Boston Marathon and as she profiles the people who are Boston Stronger. Through her blog posts, poems and journal entries woven together with excerpts from her memoir, “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility,” you will experience, through one woman’s journey of transformation and healing, that no matter what happens to us, we can all learn to journey well.

1 comment:

  1. I just love reading your blog Mary. It is always so inspiring :)