Sunday, June 22, 2014

Bring the Kids - Volunteering at the BAA 10K Kids Races - Sometimes it's better to give than to receive

I wasn't planning to volunteer at the BAA 10K but then I received an email asking if I would volunteer. I signed up to help with Wave Starts and Finisher's Medal.

I received another email saying they had too many volunteers for the wave start and finisher's medal area but needed volunteers for the Kids Races. Would anyone be interested in changing their assignment?

I sent back an email saying I would.

The voice of Tom Grilk once again filled the air in and around Boston Common.

The time is 7:40 and we are getting ready to run another race here in Boston. It's a gorgeous day out there. There are 8,000 of you getting ready to run this second leg of the BAA Distance Medley... There are 8,000 of you out there. 8,000 Strong doing what we do best as a city. We run. We run Boston Strong.

While it was not nearly as emotional as being at the start of last year's BAA 10K, I felt a little catch in my throat as Tom spoke those words.

Tom and Ruth Anne were at the start while I prepared for registration for the Kids Races.

Tom took this photo of the field from the start:

And of his finisher's medal which reminds us that Boston Runs as One as we continue to heal from the events of 4/15/13:

While Tom and Ruth Anne were out on the course, I was busy registering almost 200 kids for the Kids Races.

From the BAA website:
The B.A.A. 10k Kids Races give young and aspiring runners the chance to experience the fun and excitement of the B.A.A. 10k in shorter races designed with them in mind! Children will be grouped by age and have the opportunity to race without the pressure of competition.

DATE: Sunday, June 22
TIME: Races for kids begin at 9:00 a.m.
LOCATION: Boston Common (ball field), adjacent to Charles Street
COST: Free!

KIDS FUN RUN RACES: At 9:00 a.m., kids between four and 11 years old may compete in races on Boston Common. The race distances will depend on the age of the participants, with four- and five-year-olds competing in the shortest distance, and ten- and 11-year-olds competing in the longest distance (approximately 400 meters) on Charles Street. No pre-registration is necessary. Sign up your child on race morning. All participants will receive a bib number and participation award.

There is no entry fee for this event.
Events will not be timed and results will not be recorded.
Arrive prior to the event to register near the ball fields next to the start and finish area.
Parents, guardians and/or grown-ups should accompany kids and will be able to sign-up for the races beginning at 8:00 a.m. on race morning.


Sprint racing and an obstacle course from 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., followed by "distance" races from 9:40 to 10:00 a.m. Kids will have the opportunity to run the stations multiple times. At 10:00 a.m., the ten- and 11-year-olds will be escorted to Charles Street for the street race. There will be a separate boys and girls street race.


On-site registration for the Kids Races begins at 8:00 a.m. adjacent to the baseball field. There is no fee for kids, and they may begin racing at any time starting after 9:00 a.m.

I worked with the mother of the Kids Race organizer who told me about the history of the Kids Race. Four years ago, her daughter, Tarryn Prosper who is a consultant with the BAA and media relations for the Boston Marathon was asked about organizing a Kids Race. Twenty five kids in total participated. The second year, the number increased and then last year, there were almost 300 kids who participated.

After we completed registration, we moved inside the ball field to distribute finisher's medals to the kids age 9 and under as each finished their sprints around the field.

A six year old girl had fractured her collarbone and was planning to run. Before the race her mom asked if she could walk and of course Tarryn said yes. I was delighted to present her with her medal.

And then a moment that brought Tarryn's mother and me to tears. A girl using a walker used every ounce of strength, determination and effort to cross the finish line on the field. She may have had cerebral palsy or a similar neuromuscular challenge. She was out of breath but thoroughly delighted with herself for meeting the challenge of her race. Everyone cheered and surrounded her as though she had finished first. I noticed the way her parents made sure she was okay but also supported her strength and independence.

The kids enjoyed hoola hoops, an obstacle course and the energy of children and families gathered together on a gorgeous summer's day in Boston. Kids took such pride that they had a medal like mom or dad who had finished their race.

It was time for the oldest kids' heat. Last year there were only 12 kids who participated. This year we had 36 kids registered to race from the corner of Boylston Street and Charles Street to the finish line of the BAA 10K. I was delighted to distribute finishers medals, lending my heart and voice to cheering on the kids as they ran full on down the chute. It was an added blessing to cheer on the back of the pack finishers from the 10K as they crossed the finish line.

The race announcer let the BAA 10K runners know that they needed to stay to the right because the 9-11 year olds would be participating in their own race. The organizers had a finisher's tape for the winners to break.

The girls were the first to race. Tom captured this moment of the parents eager to see their kids come down the chute:

And here we are giving finisher's medals to everyone:

Almost 200 children had the opportunity to experience the joys of running in a race today. Each one proudly wore their bib and a finisher's medal. For those who had a parent who raced today, they can now have a special shared experience. Seeds are being planted for the future; to reap the harvest of a next generation who embrace the joy of running together in community.

So for all you parents out there - make time to bring the kids along when you go out on a run and bring them to kids races.

Find the time and the opportunity to volunteer to nourish our next generation in healthy pursuits because sometimes it is truly better to give than to receive.

My memoir, "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility" is now available on Amazon.

"Wait, I have one more goal," Mary McManus told her personal trainer in February of 2008 shortly after coming out of her toe up leg brace. "I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital." Mary traded in her polio shoes for running shoes and embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Mary McManus was at the height of her career as a VA social worker when she was told by her team at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s International Rehab Center for Polio in December of 2006 that she needed to quit her job if she had any hope of preventing the progression of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. In “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility” Mary takes you on her seven year healing odyssey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma from her diagnosis, to taking a leap of faith to leave her award winning career at the VA to heal her life and follow her passion as a poet and writer. You’ll experience her trials, tribulations and triumphs as she trains for and crosses the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and discovers the opportunity for healing in the wake of new trauma: the suicide of her nephew in 2011, and the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. This is Mary's journey of coming home to her human form free from the influences of the ghastly ghostly invaders who had invaded her sacred earthly home. Her memoir includes journals and blog posts from her seven year healing odyssey. This is her journey of transformation and her message of healing, hope and possibility.

I donate 50% of royalty payments through on line sales to The One Fund to help Boston Marathon survivors and their families. Copies are also available at Brookline Marathon Sports. $5 of each book sold at Marathon Sports is donated to The One Fund.

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