Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Singing Boston Strong: Spotlight on Boston and Boston University

I came to Boston from Westchester, New York when I was 17 years old. I began my freshman year at Boston University in 1971, one month after my father ended his life. I lived at "The Zoo", 700 Commonwealth Avenue. I fell in love with the City and all the hope and possibility it offered to me. Like so many New Yorkers from Westchester or Long Island, we came to Boston and never left.

I graduated from the School of Public Communication, now COM in 1976 after being in Business, Liberal Arts, a brief stint at Northeastern University to become a lab tech and then I fell in love with Public Relations and writing. I had an amazing journalism professor, Bob Sales, who taught us how to write news stories on manual typewriters using an egg timer to help us meet "deadlines".

I was hired by Boston University's Counseling Center to do intake and PR. The director suggested I use my gifts of empathy and compassion to pursue a career in social work. One of my volunteer veterans who I supervised as a social worker at the VA was best friends with "The Admiral" Wendell Norman Johnson, "Norm" to his friends, who was the Dean of Students at Boston University. I returned to the BU Campus in May of 2007 to deliver a poetic tribute to Norm at his memorial service.

Fast forward to 2011 when my husband was running the Boston Marathon for Childrens Hospital. I approached Dean Elmore who had been very close friends with Norm about having an a cappella concert as a fund raiser. He was totally on board with it. He gave a rousing speech before the concert began about coming together as a community for a good old fashioned "barn raising". It was a rousing success - Signed, Sealed and Delivered we raised over $5,000 for Childrens Hospital.

When my friend Greg Gordon who is running the 2014 Boston Marathon as part of Spaulding's Race for Rehab team and I talked about doing a fund raiser for his Boston Marathon run, it made perfect sense for me to return to Boston University for an evening of a cappella. I knew that I did not have another marathon in me. Although I could not go the distance in miles, I could go the distance with putting together a fundraiser to benefit Spaulding Rehab Hospital. I was a member of their 2009 Race for Rehab team as a mobility impaired runner. That's when Greg and I first met.

The Boston Marathon has been a part of my life ever since I came to Boston in 1971 and in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings when Greg and I were together at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, I knew that I needed to take action to heal.

From my memoir, Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility:

We woke up early on April 15, 2013. You would have thought we were running the Boston Marathon again. Tom and I had a ‘perfect’ morning together enjoying the coverage on WBZ TV and leisurely making our way to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel for a reunion with some of our Race for Rehab team members. Although I grew up in New York, I called Boston home since 1971 when I began my freshman year at Boston University. Following numerous orthopedic surgeries when I hobbled around on crutches, I would often joke, “No I’m not going to run the marathon this year, maybe next year.” Be careful what you say out loud to the Universe.

We rounded up 5 phenomenal a cappella groups who have been featured in my blog this week.

And one day, while I was on facebook, I saw a link that Boston University was going to select a team to run this year's Boston Marathon in honor of Lu Lingzi who was killed in the Boston Marathon Bombings. When I met with Dean Elmore a few weeks ago to talk about the concert, we agreed that having a moment of silence in honor of Lu was a crucial part of our program.

When I googled who was selected for the team, I discovered that Dan Mercurio who was friends with my children at Brookline High School was on the team. Here he is being interviewed by Ann Curry the day after the bombings:

Here is the link to the statements of the members of the team that are running in Lu's memory to raise money for a Scholarship Fund in her memory.

This Friday will be a time to celebrate, commemorate and raise money for Spaulding Rehab where many of the survivors of the bombing were able to find their strength and rebuild their lives after the tragedy of 4/15/13. I found my strength there a little over 7 years ago and continue to find my strength through their Aquatics Therapy program. We will come together as a community to heal through music and to inspire Greg and others who will be taking that 26.2 mile journey on 4/21/14. We will be Singing Boston Strong!

Donate to Greg's fund raising page and in the comments section write how many tickets you would like set aside. We will have them ready for you at the will call table. Minimum suggested donation/ticket is $10 to reserve your spot for one of the hottest a cappella shows Spring.

See you on Friday!

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