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Alison and Jefferson Crowther address participants at the 2011 Red Bandanna 5K. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

Oct. 25 will be the 10th annual Welles Remy Crowther Red Bandanna 5K, held in memory of the 1999 Boston College alumnus and volunteer firefighter celebrated for his heroism during the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center. The race, which takes place on the BC Main Campus, has become the biggest fundraiser for the Welles Remy Crowther Charitable Trust, a fund established by Crowther’s family to benefit the good works of young men and women.

Hundreds of runners take part in the event, supported by contributions from various sponsors and donors. Some participants create their own fundraising web pages on which they share the reasons for their involvement.

In some cases, there’s a personal connection: Sara Kravotil notes that her cousin, Carr, was a close friend of Crowther. Carroll School of Management MBA graduates Colin and Tracey (Lapan) McDevitt named their oldest son, now nine, after Crowther, and would bring him to the 5K as a toddler. Although the family has now relocated from New Hampshire to Texas, the McDevitts say they are determined to return for the race.

 “Welles has participated many times in this race (years and years ago, while being pushed in a jogging stroller by his Dad),” Tracey wrote on their fundraising webpage. “This is the first time he, and his brother, Greer, will be running it.  He hopes to be the first Welles to finish the race.”

Others have simply found themselves inspired by the example of Crowther to want to make a difference in whatever way they can. After hearing the story during the 10th-anniversary coverage of 9/11, Anthony Spaziani, a teacher in Queens, NY, was so impressed he and his students made Crowther the subject of a class project. They also created a commemorative quilt and sent it to Crowther’s parents, Alison and Jefferson.

“It was a great character lesson for my students and an awesome art project,” wrote Spaziani. “I am finally going to make it to the run.”  

“I set this up because a conversation with my dad made me realize that there are a lot of people who are in our lives who might want to be a part of this,” Chloe Sigillito ’13, MA ’14, an admission counselor at Fordham University, explained on her page. “The story of Welles Remy Crowther is one that speaks to the best in all of us and the spirit we all try to have.”

For details on the Welles Remy Crowther Red Bandanna 5K, see Information about the Welles Remy Crowther Charitable Trust is available at

–Sean Smith


As it continues to examine the problems of Social Security – and potential solutions – the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College [] is getting some perspective from Washington Post readers, thanks to a new partnership built on an online exercise incorporating much of the center’s analysis and expertise. 

 “We’re very excited about it,” says CRR Associate Director for External Relations Andrew Eschtruth. “That the Post has committed its own resources in this way is a huge endorsement for the content and for us as a non-partisan research organization.”

The CRR-Post partnership originated with the 2007 CRR publication The Social Security Fix-it Book, a 52-page explanation of the problem and solutions mixed in with easy-to-understand graphs and charts. In the back of the book are 10 options for readers to choose from to help fix Social Security.

 “The notion behind that book was to give people a very quick sense of Social Security’s long-term financing challenge and offer them a list of common ways to alleviate the problem by either reducing benefits or raising revenues for the system,” says Eschtruth, co-author of the book. “Our whole goal was not to take any sides politically, but present these options in a neutral way with pros and cons for each.“

Although the book was well received, the CRR didn’t have a way to collect user responses. Then the Washington Post came calling last year with its proposal.

“We always liked the idea of somehow integrating this into a poll, and this survey exercise is one way to do it,” says Eschtruth. “The Post is an ideal partner for this effort because their readership is more interested in the details of public policy issues than the average person.”

The first article based on the CRR book has been published in the print version of the Post and online as well [].  

“So far, one of the most popular solutions is to raise the earnings cap, meaning people at higher income levels would pay payroll taxes on more of their earnings,” says Eschtruth. “Another is raising the full retirement age, which is a form of benefit cut.”

Eschtruth is thrilled with the partnership and expects all the articles on the Washington Post website to continue to draw attention, largely because of the topic’s importance and relevance.

“It’s not going to become stale anytime soon. The debate is not about to end. Congress and the President are not about to pass any legislation on this issue. And the fundamental shape of the issue will be the same a year from now, two years from now.”

–Sean Hennessey