Even in distant Cheney, we run for Boston
Cheney High School student-athletes, juniors Mariah Brenton and Amanda Lomax had a very simple reason for organizing Sunday’s fundraiser to help victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
“We just want to let them know that Cheney was supporting them,” Lomax said.
It’s a sentiment no doubt echoed hundreds of times throughout this country from countless people who made donations and set up fundraisers to provide relief to those impacted by the April 15 terrorist attack that left three dead and injured more than 260 others.
Somehow, it doesn’t seem to be a sentiment making any headway towards those who need to hear it most – potential terrorists. Foreign or domestic, homegrown anger or international rage, anybody who would harm innocent people to send a message, to strike out against wrongs – perceived or, unfortunately, actual – via acts of violence.
Because that desire to show support carries another, unstated, message: Your acts of violence don’t work. Rather than undermine us, they just make us stronger, so knock if off!
I think if people like the Tsarnaev brothers who planted the two pressure cooker bombs at the marathon’s finish line, or Timothy McVeigh, who left a bomb-filled truck in front of Oklahoma City’s Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995, or those who flew planes into the World Trade Centers in 2001, could have seen what took place Sunday at Cheney High School’s track, they might have rethought their efforts.
Brenton, a member of the varsity cross country team and distance runner in track, said she got up early that day to specifically watch the race but, alas, had to go to school. It was later through text messages that she found out about the bombing.
“As a runner, it’s so much work to get ready for a race like that,” she said, adding that preparation is months, even years in the making.
Lomax said she was “one of the last to find out” not because she doesn’t follow things like that but because distance isn’t her event. She’s a high jumper, but as an athlete has an appreciation for what distance runners do.
“They are dedicated people,” Lomax said.
The bombings hit them in much the same way it hit many in this country.
“I was shell-shocked that someone would do that just to send a message,” Lomax said.
So she and Brenton began talking about what they could do to show support. First it was asking track and field teammates to write letters, then they talked about T-shirts, and maybe others might want to join their efforts. Very quickly, last Sunday’s “We Run for Boston” was born and took legs (sorry, for the pun).
The girls said teacher and cross country head coach Jay Martin along with assistant principal for activities and athletics Jim Missel helped them get their idea going. Physical education teacher April Arland’s husband Mark at Stadium Sports helped with the T-shirts while others got the word out.
At $10-$12 per shirt depending on size, it became evident pretty quickly their original goal of raising $200 was being left in the dust (man, another bad running pun). Prior to Sunday’s run the girls said they had raised over $700 in T-shirt sales, with about $150 in a donation jar.
It’s likely more, as Martin told me later they sold 177 shirts. Judging from those who did turn out to run, and the number of shirts left on the table for those who didn’t make it, he’s right.
“I think it was right about $1,000 total after paying for shirts,” Martin wrote in an email Tuesday. “We received about $350 on Sunday alone for donations. Pretty cool for our little town.”
There were other measures of solidarity in evidence as well. A decorated banner with “We Run for Boston” emblazoned on it was there for participants to sign and send messages of support. Then there was the run’s distance: 2.62 miles.
“The run was 2.62 miles – symbolic of the 26.2 of a marathon,” Martin wrote.
Pretty cool indeed, not just for a community, but for two high school student-athletes moved by what they saw to respond to violence with the goodness of the human spirit. To send an unspoken message that in the end, terror will not prevail.
“As a whole our country was wounded by that, and that we support them,” Lomax said of the Boston victims.
“Keep running,” Brenton added. “Don’t give up on something.”
John McCallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.