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Marathoners with a mission

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Inspiration is all around us at Catholic Charities. We are blessed not only by staff that go above and beyond to meet a need, but also by the individual achievements of clients, as well as supporters' gifts of time, talent and treasure.

This April, we are especially inspired by the five individuals who ran this year's Boston Marathon, each using their run as an opportunity to fundraise for Catholic Charities. Each runner committed to not only months of rigorous training to prepare for the grueling 26.2 mile run, but also to raising the Marathon-required $5,000 in support of our work.

Kimberly Greene ran on the Catholic Charities Marathon team for the third consecutive year. Kim explains her involvement this way: "My first introduction to Catholic Charities was at a Springfest Gala for Catholic Charities South, where I learned about the organization's mission 'to build a just and compassionate society rooted in the dignity of all people.' That really struck a chord with me, because I am the oldest of three children raised by a single mother. I remembered watching her struggle to pay bills, buy food, and pay rent for our 2-family apartment... I was eager to support the Catholic Charities programs that assist families in similar situations today. These programs provide financial assistance to people who are struggling to pay for food, rent, and utilities. Reading statistics about hunger and homelessness can make you feel overwhelmed and powerless to help. But my husband and I decided to make a difference by lacing up our running shoes, torturing ourselves on the treadmill and icy roads, and tackling Heartbreak Hill!"

Vin Greene, Kim's husband, ran his fourth Marathon in support of Catholic Charities and says: "For anyone who has completed even one long distance race, the Boston Marathon holds a legendary status. The unforgiving course, often abusive weather conditions, and storied history make the right turn onto Hereford and the left turn onto Boylston to the finish line the brass ring for any runner. It has been my honor for the past three years to run Boston and make those final turns for Catholic Charities. When I learned this year that I would have a fourth opportunity to run Boston in support of Catholic Charities, I didn't need to think about my answer. The work that Catholic Charities performs and the support it provides is more important today than it has ever been. The chance to raise funds for the Basic Needs programs, while attempting to reach Boston's finish line in the shadow of Fenway Park, is a perfect marriage of challenges."

Two of the five Catholic Charities Team members ran in support of our Refugee Resettlement Program. Our refugees arrive from war-torn countries all over the world and we work to help them get a new start here in the United States.

Kate Lepre works in our Refugee and Immigration Division, and ran her first ever marathon as part of Team Catholic Charities. Kate has said this about the Boston Marathon: "While this is of monumental importance to me because of what it represents as a commitment to physical challenges, even more important to me is my lasting commitment to social justice. I could not be more excited to spend 18 weeks of solid training to run a race that combines both my passion for running and social justice. Not only am I running this race for Catholic Charities, but as a native Vermonter I dedicate the 2012 Boston Marathon to honor and remember Vermont flood victims affected by Hurricane Irene."

Dan McBennett also ran his first Boston Marathon, but unlike Kate, has run more than 10 marathons and half marathons. Dan, a veteran who has served in both Afghanistan and Iraq, is a firefighter from Lorain, Ohio. Dan's connections to Catholic Charities are twofold; he is a childhood friend of Marjean Perhot, our Refugee and Immigration Division Director, and he and his wife Terry adopted their son J.D. through Catholic Charities in Ohio. Dan has wanted to run for a charity for a long time: "I know there are several charities that are worthy and in need of financial help, but Catholic Charities certainly holds a special place in our hearts."

Our fifth runner, Richard White, is a veteran marathoner from Missouri. This was Richard's fifth consecutive Boston Marathon and the second time that he ran and raised funds to support a worthy cause. Of this year's run, Richard says, "I want to give back by raising money to help feed families down on their luck or suffering from the economic downturn. Catholic Charities does great work every day feeding hungry people. That's awesome!"

We are grateful to Kim, Vin, Kate, Dan and Richard and inspired not only by their amazing athletic accomplishment, but more importantly, by their care and concern for those in need.

To learn more about our work visit www.ccab.org.

Debbie Rambo is president of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston.

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