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Going the Extra Mile(s)

BC support for marathon victims staying strong

Staff and students from the Campus School joined “The Last 5,” a walk organized by Boston College students last Friday to honor victims of the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

By Jack Dunn & Sean Smith|
Director of News & Public Affairs, Chronicle Editor

Published: May 9, 2013

The Boston College community continued to show its support for victims of last month’s Boston Marathon bombings, in the form of a student-led walk around the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, and a tee shirt and point drive organized by the BC Bookstore and BC Dining Services.

Associate Vice President for Auxiliary Services Patricia Bando said Tuesday that some 2,000 “Boston Strong Mile 21” tee shirts have been sold via the BC Bookstore website in support of the One Fund Boston, which was created to assist victims of the marathon bombings.

“We felt that it was a good way to assist those affected through a partnership with BC Bookstore and Champion athletic apparel to design and sell a tee shirt that reflects our pride and resolve as a community,” said Bando.

In addition, Bando said Dining Services worked with BC students to organize a point drive on April 29 that enabled students to donate food dollars from their meal plans to the One Fund Boston.

She estimated that the combined donation of the BC Bookstore and Dining Services to One Fund Boston would exceed $22,500.

Last Friday, more than 500 people turned out for “The Last 5,” a walk around the Chestnut Hill Reservoir organized by BC sophomores Danielle Cole and Michael Padulsky. The pair, both of whom ran in the Boston Marathon but were denied the opportunity to finish because of the bombings, came up with the idea of a walk to enable supporters to complete the journey — “Last 5” meaning the remaining five miles to the marathon finish line — on behalf of all those who could not. 

Given the overwhelming response to their idea, Boston Police asked them on April 17 to pursue other options so as not to overburden officers and emergency responders who had worked non-stop since the bombings occurred.  The students opted for a vigil on April 19, which had to be cancelled in light of the lockdown, before focusing on the reservoir walk, which Boston and BC Police endorsed.

Working with Student Affairs and the Undergraduate Government of Boston College, Cole and Padulsky designed blue and yellow tee shirts that read “BC Strong: We Decide When Our Marathon Ends,” which were sold for $5.  All proceeds went to support funds established for BC graduate students Liza Cherney and Brittany Loring, and 2005 BC alumnus Patrick Downes and his wife, Jessica, all of whom were injured in the bombings.

Cole and Padulsky welcomed the participants at the walk’s starting point in the Mods parking lot, then led the group around the reservoir. Interviewed later, Cole said she and her co-organizer had wondered if the event’s start time — 10 a.m. — and its two-plus weeks proximity to the bombings would lessen interest.  

“When we saw the crowd that came out I can honestly say that I was overwhelmed and enthusiastic about the turnout,” she said. “I was pleasantly surprised at all of the unfamiliar faces I saw, representing all of the support within the BC community. It was an incredible feeling being able to gather such a large group of people in support of one cause.”

While there were many uplifting moments for Cole at “The Last 5,” one in particular made an impression. Just before she and Padulsky started their welcome to the walkers, they were greeted by staff from the Boston College Campus School — which serves children with multiple disabilities — who told the two organizers they and several students from the school wanted to join the walk.

“To be able to walk in solidarity with the very kids we as BC students had run the marathon for — to raise funds for the Campus School — was an incredible privilege and brought things full circle.”

Reflecting on the recent tragedy, Cole said the bombings would likely shape people’s perceptions about the Boston Marathon for years to come — but not in a negative light.

“I think it will instead shape those perceptions in realizing the importance of why we run. We run because that means accepting the challenge. We run because that means refusing to be fearful. I know without a doubt that next year, for Boston and the BC community, more runners will be running the Boston Marathon than ever before; and this is because we, as a community of BC students and as a Boston community, have realized that our physical safety is never guaranteed us.

“This leaves us with two options: to make decisions and act out of fear, or to make decisions and act out of a boldness that comes from choosing to love instead of choosing to fear.”

See a video about “The Last 5” on the Boston College YouTube channel