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Running the road to hope

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I find it appropriate that in this year following the tragedy of the Boston Marathon bombing that we find no shortage of the word "HOPE." Pope Francis has said this is to be a year of hope. Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley recently announced the Catholic Appeal's theme of "Forward in Hope." Even in his inaugural speech, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh stated, "We are a city of hope." At Catholic Charities, we have long referred to our work as "providing hope for all." Indeed, as we hear the stories of those whose lives were impacted by the bombing, there is much to be hopeful for this year.

Since 2009, Catholic Charities has partnered with John Hancock's Non-Profit Marathon program and has been privileged to sponsor a number of athletes in the running of the Boston Marathon. This year, Charities is proud to sponsor four strong, dedicated athletes in what will be a very significant year for the world's oldest annual marathon. Charities welcomes Andrew Alexander of San Francisco and Colin Carey of Boston, first time runners on the team, and welcomes back Kimberly and Vincent Greene of Norton who are no strangers to our team and were caught in last year's tragic events.

"I was about 0.4 miles away from the finish line and got caught up in the first cluster of runners that was stopped," says Kimberly Greene. "I began to walk back along the route, trying to do the math to figure out where Vin might be. I found him around mile 25, he hadn't heard the news yet, and thought it was odd that I was so emotional about him passing the mile 25 marker." After the devastating events, Greene looked for inspiration to keep running: ultimately she found inspiration in her commitment to helping others, a commitment that led to her first Boston Marathon as a member of Charities team in 2010.

John Hancock's Marathon Program stated that, "In 2014, runners will join together to help people live better lives by raising millions of dollars for a wide variety of worthy causes. Every step of their journey represents a commitment to the organizations they support and the hope they hold for a brighter tomorrow."

While we have four truly dedicated runners that we are proud to have representing our organization, we recognize that all runners this year are running with a sense of hope. The reasons they run and those they run for are as varied as the runners themselves. It is a true testament to the goodness of humanity that a year after such a tragic event, this event is not causing an avoidance, but much rather, an attraction. With a record high demand to run in support of those affected, how can we not find hope?

If despite this great tragedy we can stop to say, "Everything happens for a reason," we may find that there is reason for our faith to be strengthened. During the bombing, we saw tragedy, yes, but we also saw strength, courage and goodness. We saw local residents run into the destruction to help complete strangers. We saw the bravery of Boston first responders who did not hesitate to step up in their time of need. We saw that the power two young men had was nothing compared the strength of this city and those in it.

Good luck and God bless to all who will take on the 26.2 mile challenge on April 21, 2014. Our prayers and support are with all of you in your demonstration of strength and hope for this city.

Deborah Kincade Rambo is president of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston. Nicholas Frazier is Annual Fund Manager and the Catholic Charities' Boston Marathon Team Coordinator.

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