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26.2 reasons for hope on this Marathon anniversary

Rest In Peace. Angels.
[Clockwise from top left] Martin Richard, Krystle Marie Campbell and Lingzi Lu died in the Boston Marathon bombing. MIT Badge No. 179 Sean Collier was killed three days later. There will be a moment of silence in Boston to honor those affected by the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings at 2:49 p.m. Tuesday.


Feel good? Have hope? Today?

Impossible.

Well, not really.

As Tax Day, April 15 sucked long before last year.

Now, April 15 is now probably the ugliest date on the calendar in Boston's nearly-400-year history.

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We dealt with the loss and pain caused last April 15 by the Boston Marathon bombings and their aftermath on Monday. [We'll wait here while you catch up with the rest of the class.]

Moving forward, we thought it might be a refreshing contrast to the somber and solemn tone of this one-year anniversary to offer 26.2 marathon-related reasons for hope, even on a day like this. It is with that backdrop, and always with respect and reverence to those who died and those who continue to heal, that we try uplift and inspire on this most tragic of memorable days.

Remember, the greatest Boston Marathon ever is only six days away.

26. Photographer Robert X. Fogarty, who created the Dear World project, solicited marathon survivors, first responders and other to pose with various messages of healing, hope and support written on their skin at the finish line.

Among the images:

On his "Dear World: Boston Marathon" site, Fogarty wrote:

"When we asked you to return to the finish line, a place that changed your lives, we knew it wouldn't be easy. You told us some days are harder than others, but that it’s okay to have bad days. Mostly you told us about the goodness of others. Colleagues who babysat. School kids who sent notes. Neighbors who cooked dinner. What happened that day was terror. Terror happens when love is absent. Boston is a city of love stories now. Thank you for sharing yours here. As you heal, know you inspire the rest of us to be better, still."


25. The weather.

Even if it rains Tuesday or next Monday, it won't snow [we hope]. There will be no more Polar Vortex. Temperatures crossed the 70-degree barrier Monday for the first time since November. This "[expletive] brutal" winter may finally be in New England's rear-view mirror.


24. Boston Marathon race director Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray plans to run the race for the 42nd time on Monday, once his work is done. He told WEEI's "Dennis and Callahan" Monday he expects to leave Hopkinton around 7 p.m. and cross the Boylston Street finish line sometime around 11 p.m. He's overcome some heart-related issues and will be running to raise money the Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation.


23. Chris Herren, yes that Chris Herren, will be running the race along with three others from The Herren Project to raise money and awareness for those dealing with drug addiction.


22. Jennifer Lemmerman, one Collier's two sisters named Jennifer, is now a Ward 2 Alderman in Melrose.


21. There's no shortage of books about last year's attack. This can be good and bad, but it's mostly good. There were thousands of stories to be told. Many are worth your time. Here's a list of 13 you might want to consider, via Boston Magazine.


20. Adrianne Haslet-Davis walked off the set of "Meet The Press" last week when the show decided to break an agreement with her and mention the names of the accused bombers during a panel discussion. A professional dancer, she lost part of her left leg in the attacks, and has since learned how to walk and dance again on a prosthetic leg.

Tremendous.


19. Henry Richard, Martin's older brother, will attend Boston Latin School. No small accomplishment for any student, never mind one who experienced the trauma of last year's attack with his family.


18. There's someone with solid Bay State ties with a real shot to win the race this year. Good luck to Marblehead High School graduate Shalane Flanagan.


17. There have been several terrific Marathon tribute videos. Here's another one:


16. Running 26.2 miles is one thing. But this was truly amazing:


15. You remember former Patriots lineman Joe Andruzzi carrying Julie Wittich after the bombing.

Members of Andruzzi's foundation were celebrating near the finish line when the explosions occurred. Many raced to help the wounded. In recognition of Wittich's spirit, she will be running again this year, more than 45 members of his foundation are running the race this year for charity.


14. Not everyone running this year has done it before. Caitlyn Bransfield was 15 feet away from the second explosion a year ago Tuesday. She wasn't physically hurt, but avoided Boylston Street for weeks thereafter. "I was too afraid to go back," she told The Christian Science Monitor. She avoided "Boston Strong" clothing because "I didn't feel very strong." Eventually, it all served as an inspiration. She began training a month later and will be running for two charity teams, Collier Strong and one for Massachusetts General Hospital. She attended Wilmington High School with Collier.


13. Big Papi said it. [Watch the NSFW version here.] Now, you can wear it:


12. The new finish line has been installed for Monday's race:


11. As has the new starting line:


10. The One Run for Boston began March 16 on the Pacific coast in Santa Barbara, Calif. It ended Sunday in Copley Square and raised more than $430,000 to help those affected by the bombings and their aftermath.


9. As part of its pre-Boston Marathon coverage, Runner's World produced a terrific infographic offering a numerical history of the race. Check out the entire illustration by Dan Fuehrer and Scott Douglas here on the RW website.


8. You can win this incredible mask - signed by Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask - and help The One Fund at the same time.

The mask features portraits of Campbell, Collier, Lu and Martin Richard. All of the victims who were injured at the finish line are listed along the mask's jawline. Goalie Kyle Acomb ordered the mask, which was made by Dom Malerba of Pro’s Choice. Malerba makes the masks used by Rask and many others. It was painted by Montreal artist David Leroux. Tickets for the raffle are $2 apiece [5 per order minimum ] with all proceeds going to The One Fund. It ends April 22.


7. Reading's Marc Fucarile reluctantly plans to attend the memorial ceremony at the Hynes Convention Center Tuesday. But the biggest event of his week will take place Thursday around 4 p.m. inside the EMC Club at Fenway Park when he weds his long-time fiancée Jennifer Regan. The two have a son, Gavin, who is 6.

They will ride Duck Boats from the Hotel Commonwealth to the ceremony.

How sweet is that?


6. Speaking of upcoming nuptials, Jeff Bauman and his fiancée, Erin Hurley, are expecting a baby in July and have planned a 2015 wedding. Andrew Collier, Sean's younger but larger brother, and his fiancée, Tori Tornatore, are scheduled to be married Aug. 31 in North Carolina.

Meanwhile, Rebekah Gregory, 26, and Pete DiMartino, 29, were married earlier this month in North Carolina. Each was injured in the attacks. Their wedding came courtesy of a contest run by wedding planning website The Knot, which called them "an inspiring couple who deserve the wedding of their dreams after the obstacles they have overcome."


5. Not everyone will be standing still on anniversary Tuesday.

Paul and J.P. Norden each lost a leg in the attack and have endured more than 50 surgeries between them. Tuesday, they are going to walk the 26.2-mile Boston Marathon course from Hopkinton to Boston starting at 9 a.m. They are hoping to finish around 6 p.m. Paul's fiancée, Jacqui Webb, was also wounded in the blast. The walk is fundraiser for their gofundme.com site, which has been established to help defray their future medical and other expenses. Their prosthetics need to be replaced every three to five years.

April 15th 2014 will be filled with raw emotion for the Norden Family. You won't find them hiding behind closed doors though, instead they will walk in a "LEGS FOR LIFE" relay the entire Boston Marathon route in unity TOGETHER with family and friends. The Norden Brothers have trained full force for this event and plan to pace themselves along the way . . . they know their limits and will relay in and out as the day goes by. The pressure of their prosthetics will play a major factor but they are determined to make it happen.


4. Speaking of Marathon tribute videos, this song was posted on You Tube by user jdviolinboy last April 21. It's worth another look. He was all of 9 at the time.

"I originally wrote this song for my dad, a marathoner who was recovering from hip surgery. We re-wrote it for the runners, police, survivors, first responders, and all the heroes who inspired the world in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing. God Bless America," wrote J.D., who is now 10, on his You Tube site.


3. The team running in Richard's honor totals 100 and has already raised more than $850,000 for the foundation named in his honor.


2. For some, running 26.2 miles this year is impossible. Elinor Scott of St. Louis Park, Minn., was about a mile from the finish line last year at the time of the attacks. Scott, 51, was unable to finish the race but planned to come back. "I started this race and I want to finish," she told KARE TV. In January, she was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. Where she once ran more than 70 miles weekly in training, now she's down to maybe one. But Scott has been given permission to officially run the final mile of the race this year and will be back in Boston next week. She vows to complete the last mile, even if it means walking the whole way. "Each day my goal is to overshoot my run a little past my front door," she said.


Red Sox champions - Rememeber
Boston Globe photo

1. The role of Boston's sports teams in the region's civic healing has been substantially documented here and elsewhere. The Bruins provided the first mass public gathering after the bombings on Wed., April 17. Their contest against Buffalo was preceded by the greatest sports pre-game rendition of the National Anthem in Boston history.

The day following the manhunt, when millions were able to reclaim Greater Boston from fear, terror and frustration, the Bruins playoff game against Pittsburgh started a few minutes prior to Ortiz's Fenway Park f-bomb and the Red Sox-Royals game.

The Red Sox reclaimed their place in New England's sports soul last season, providing a welcomed diversion and a worst-to-first championship. They did it with a "Boston 617 Strong" jersey hanging in their dugout and a "B Strong" sign on the Green Monster. The World Series trophy resting on the finish line during the Duck Boat parade became the defining image of their season.

The Celtics and Patriots did their share when it came to raising money for charity and the spirits of the survivors and their families.

The Marathon bombings brought together the ultimate clash between the real world and the fantasy of sport. The city's most venerable sporting event targeted by terror, mayhem and death. The city's pro sports teams, so often the source of angst and anger or joy and jubilation, stepped in for real and delivered more than anyone could have imagined. For that, Boston will always be grateful.

#BostonStrong. Was there ever any doubt?

And finally, the .2: Remember, "every day above ground is a good day."

Cherish it, those you love and all that you have. It may be gone tomorrow.

The OBF Blog is written by award-winning journalist and Bay State native Bill Speros. Got a news tip, want to let him know directly what you think, have a complaint or compliment about his "aggressively relevant" content or hate people who speak about themselves in the third person, hit him up on his Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or hit him on at his
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