The month of April brings about the same few things every year: rain, slightly warmer temperatures, more rain, and Marathon Monday! Each and every year I am reminded of how special my Patriot’s Day experience is. Most people who know me have heard me say this a million times before, I am from Hopkinton, MA – the start of the Boston Marathon – and I am proud of it.
In light of the 2013 Marathon Bombings, my Marathon Monday experience has a different meaning now than it has my entire life. I remember in elementary school waking up and heading to the center of my town with my family. We always had to park far away from the start line, so we’d leave our car in one of our friends’ neighborhoods and walk to the common. There we would find unlimited fun, especially for an eight-year-old. I remember cotton-candy machines, fried dough, watching the runners warm up, and hearing the helicopters circling overhead. In second and third grade, the Kenyan runners came to visit our elementary school. The Kenyan runners are members of the elite group of athletes who usually win the marathon. We got to meet the runners and get their autographs on the Friday before Marathon Monday. It was always incredible to watch a runner we met win the Boston Marathon just a few days later.
One year my mom won a prize in our town’s Silent Auction. My little brother got to be “Police Chief for the Day” and he picked non-other than Marathon Monday to claim his prize. That year my family got special treatment for the entire day. I remember getting to park right near the start line, which was such a privilege! We got to sit on the risers with the “VIPs” to watch the gun go off and runners begin their race. My brother wore a special “Police Chief” badge, which made him feel so official on such a special day in my town.
In fifth grade, I decided I needed to take a bigger part in the Marathon events. My philanthropic elementary-self started a small non-profit organization called No More Needles. My mom is a Type One Diabetic and I have watched her stick needles in herself all her life. Although this non-profit was a quick-lived dream of mine, I actually earned my own booth on the Hopkinton Common to sell bracelets that sported the important phrase “No More Needles” on them to all marathon spectators. I remember waking up super early that day, probably around 6 A.M. and heading to my designated spot on the common. I set up my overhead tent and the table that would showcase the silver “Live Strong-type” bracelets. That Marathon Monday, I learned what being a philanthropist meant. I sold hundreds of bracelets and raised over five-hundred dollars, which to a fifth grade girl was a lot! I donated the money to the Joslin Diabetes Research Center in Boston to fund Type One Diabetes research.
In middle school, Marathon Monday became more of a social event. All of the kids in my grade would sleep over their friends’ houses who lived closest to the start line the night before. We would wake up and walk to the common. These few middle school Marathon Mondays involved meeting up with groups of boys by the start line and planning our later hangouts. We paid a lot less attention to the runners, and a lot more attention to the boys, typical middle school girls. In fact, I had my first kiss on Marathon Monday in middle school – just another reason why this day has stuck out among all others over the years.
My last few Marathon Mondays in high school were bittersweet. Of course, at the time I had no idea I would get to take part in Marathon Monday just further down the route in college. I remember cherishing the special moments with my high school friends on our town’s very special day. Marathon Monday my senior year was incredible. The weather was perfect (for the spectators, a little too hot for the runners), my friends all met up in the center of town for one last celebration all together. At this point I had gotten into BC and even met my roommate. She was from the neighboring town and decided to come experience Marathon Monday the way Hopkinton kids do. This was the first step in bridging Marathon Monday in Hopkinton to my new Marathon Monday at BC.
All in all, there will always be a special place in my heart for the Boston Marathon. I have grown up with it almost all my life. If anything, it has become even more precious to me after experiencing the resilience exhibited by Boston following the terrorist attack my freshman year. I am excited to celebrate my 17th Marathon Monday and I hope for many more to come!