Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The People Who Are Boston Stronger

{This past week has been a whirlwind of activity and emotions. I have been blessed to meet people who are the embodiment of Boston Stronger. My blog today and over the next several days features several of the people who have graced my life during this past week since the anniversary of 4/15/13.}

I first met Tom Licciardello when I was an inspirational speaker at the Merrimack Valley Striders Club after running the Boston Marathon 2009. I met Ric Beaudoin, a member of the Striders and L Street at the Hyannis Half in 2009. He heard my story and said I had to speak at his Club. To quote Jerry Maguire, Tom Licciardello "had me at hello." His smile and warmth embraced me. Our paths would cross around the running circuit as I would cheer on my Tom at different races. When I stopped running, and my Tom limited his races, I lost contact with my runner friends. After the events of 4/15/13 and my own return to the roads, I quickly reconnected with Tom and my friends in the Striders. I decided it was time to run a race I had heard about but never run on Thanksgiving Day. We hugged at the Feaster Five Expo as though no time had passed since the last time we saw each other. It was an emotional reunion in the wake of Marathon Monday.

I have never seen anyone with so much energy in my life. As we were moving through marathon training season and preparing for the 118th Boston Marathon, I saw a post about packet stuffing. I had heard about packet stuffing from members of my club L Street and the Striders. Tom told me he would love to have me on his team of volunteers and gave me the link to apply. I was thrilled when I got my assignment. Here is Tom at the beginning of our shift:

He had already completed 3 four hour shifts with one more to go after our shift.

Tom wrote a powerful and poignant article before Marathon Monday, Boston Marathon Buildup Intensifies as Race Draw Nears.

Tom was responsible for bag check at the BAA 5K on Saturday morning and had to arrive at 3:30am on Marathon Monday to be ready to receive the bags from over 30,000 runners on race day on the Boston Common. As he anticipated his role on race day, he did so with humor and grace. He has this way of making everything seem seamless and effortless.

We received an email from the director of volunteers at the BAA saying that they needed 50 volunteers to represent the BAA volunteers for a pre game ceremony at Fenway on Sunday 4/20. If interested, email Tom and the first 50 to respond would be selected. I just happened to see the email 3 minutes after it arrived and responded. Tom sent out the congratulatory email saying we made the cut.

April 20th is Tom's birthday. On 4/20/13, he took the field at Fenway representing the BAA volunteers in a somber tribute 5 days after the bombing. What an honor to experience this year's tribute which also signaled a moving forward with Tom on his birthday.

I wrote this poem for him:
Dear Tom,
A tough mudder, a husband, a wonderful friend
if anyone is in need on you they depend.
Packet stuffing no chore you fill the day with fun
I’m so blessed to know you – in my book you’re number one.
You embrace me as a Strider, you touch my heart more than you’ll know
thank you for your friendship to this world your smile brings a glow.
On this your very special day, we share the turf at Fenway Park
honoring what we’ve been through – your light snuffs out the dark.
You run the marathon of life with honesty, humor and grace
integrity and love and joy, you’ve easily won this race.
We’ve shared many special moments in Falmouth, Andover and more
may the year that unfolds ahead have so many blessings for you in store.
And when this day is over, wishes made and sun is set
here’s hoping that the miles ahead are your most wonderful miles yet.

Happy Birthday Tom!

He told me that he cried when he read it and gave me the most heartfelt thank you for writing this in his honor. Tom lives life with a heart full of gratitude and love, with a smile on his face and passion and dedication to his family, his work in financial planning, the Striders which he founded and serving the community of runners.

With Tom leading the charge, we took the field at Fenway Park and moved from looking back and remembering 4/15/13 to moving forward to the 118th Boston Marathon.

Tom said that he looks forward to a time when the word bombing no longer accompanies the words Boston Marathon. That day has arrived and because of the journey we traveled this past year we are Boston Stronger. I am so blessed to have traveled a part of this journey with Tom Licciardello.

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