The six Boston Marathon runners raising money for the Boston Scholar Athlete Program have received words of encouragement from friends, family and colleagues during training.
But they never expected a pep talk from Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino.
“This weekend is marathon weekend, I want to congratulate the runners who are running the Boston Marathon for the Boston Scholar Athlete Program, I’ll be watching you,” Menino said during the first-ever Boston Scholar Athlete Zone Party on the floor of the TD Garden on Tuesday night.
The gala raised $1.9 million for the program which has established a dedicated, staffed learning center for athletes inside each of Boston’s 19 public high schools. The program was co-founded by Menino and Suffolk Construction CEO and Chairman, John Fish.
“That was great, I didn’t expect that at all," BSA Academic Associate Colin Campbell said. "To have him recognize us meant a lot to us. Even though it was at such a big event, where people are putting a lot more into it than we are to fund raise, and [for him to] recognize us along with everyone there to support our program overall was great.”
Besides Campbell, Nicole Reither of Swampscott, Michelle Nielsen of Falls Church, Va., Kate Hensley of Quincy, Joseph Cappellano of South Boston and Liz Collins of Boston are the other BSA or Suffolk Construction employees running.
So far they have raised about $23,000 for the BSA.
“Every one of the runners for our team has a connection to BSA which is unique,” Campbell said. “I think that’s something you don’t see in a lot of other charity teams. They don’t have that connection. So for us explaining BSA [to donors] has been great."
Each runner has a month after the marathon to raise a minimum $5,000 or the difference comes out of their pocket. And in these tough times many charity runners have had a hard time finding donors to reach their goals.
Joseph Cappellano, a senior facilitator for BSA who works with athletes at Boston Latin School, said it can be tough to raise money since they all know each other and are all raising money for the same cause. But he also said they’ve come up with creative ways to raise money such as conducting a March Madness bracket.
“Most of us have reached [$5,000] or are close but obviously our goal is not to stop at $20,000 but go beyond it,” Cappellano said.
The South Boston native said his friends and family are receptive to helping Boston Public School athletes.
“As soon as I tell them we’re trying to revamp high school sports in Boston they are kind of like ‘I wish they had that when I was there,’ ” he said. “So people are very, very receptive.”
Another challenge is the fact that while the group trains together, Hensley is the only one with marathon experience.
“It’s interesting, we were all athletes in high school and college and we all have old injuries and they start to come back to haunt you,” Cappellano said.
On Monday, the group plans to start the race together and then branch off as the race progresses. They hope to all run under four hours.
“It’s a little up in the air,” Cappellano said when asked what time he is shooting for. “Before Tuesday would be nice.”
For more information on the BSA runners, go to their fundraising website.
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- Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
- Ryan Butler -- A Rhode Island native and avid Boston sports fan, Butler played basketball, baseball and football throughout his time in Barrington Public Schools. Now currently in his middler year at Northeastern University, he joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.