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Nothing lax about lacrosse community's response to Boston Marathon attack

Posted by Christopher L. Gasper, Globe Staff  April 23, 2013 03:26 PM

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I wrote in Tuesday's Globe about the emotional and financial contributions of Boston-area professional sports teams and athletes to the city in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon terror attacks. But it's not just professional sports figures who have been compelled to pitch in through athletic endeavors.

Tyrone Croom was at Abe & Louie's restaurant on Boylston Street on Marathon Monday. He was sitting on the patio, enjoying a gorgeous day and watching runners head for the finish line.

Croom got up and went inside to use the restroom. That's when the first bomb went off. The second, which was planted outside the nearby Forum restaurant, exploded 12 seconds later. Croom was hustled out a back entrance of Abe & Louie's along with other patrons.

He knew he was lucky, especially when he saw a girl with pellets lodged in her leg and a blank expression on her face sitting on the ground, frozen in pain and fear. He knew he wanted to help those who had not been as fortunate as he had been.

So, Croom, the president of CroArt lacrosse, an organization that promotes the sport and provides playing opportunities through tournaments, camps, clinics and club teams, resolved to turn a preseason scrimmage the CroArt All-Stars had scheduled with the Boston Cannons professional lacrosse team into a benefit game for those affected by the Marathon bombing.

"Afterwards, I was like, 'Should I have gone back in, should I have gone back to help?' It was just eating away at me," said the 39-year-old Croom, who grew up in Sudbury and now resides in Falmouth. "On Tuesday, I called the Cannons and said, 'We have this scrimmage coming up. Let's make this scrimmage more special than it is.' They said let's get on it and make it whatever you need."

The two sides played the benefit game at Harvard Stadium on Saturday night.

"It was a special day to see the players and fans all enjoy each a fun evening at Harvard for one common goal, raising funds for those affected on Marathon Monday," said Croom. 

Croom and the Cannons deserve a stick salute of their own.

There have been bigger sporting events in Boston that have saluted the indomitable spirt of the city and honored both the victims of the attack and the heroes who emerged from its aftermath, but there hasn't been one featuring a local professional sports team where all the proceeds went to charity.

The lacrosse scrimmages are usually free, but spectators at the game were encouraged to contribute a $10 donation, with the funds going to The One Fund Boston, the charity announced by Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Tom Menino to aid the victims of the Marathon bombing. Players from both teams also made a $20 donation each to the fund.

Croom said unofficially the parties have raised approximately $15,000 so far. The fundraising is not over.

The Cannons are still selling "Boston Strong" T-shirts on their website until Thursday, with 100% of those proceeds going to The One Fund Boston, and there is a donation page on GivingSomeThing.com.

"Nothing is too small, nothing is too big," said Croom. "This is our way of contributing. We're reaching out to the lacrosse community and to everybody. Even if you're not a lacrosse fan, and it's your first foray into the game."

If lacrosse is good enough for Jim Brown and Bill Belichick, it's good enough for the rest of us.

The Cannons, Boston's entry in Major League Lacrosse, and the CroArt All-Stars usually scrimmage a few times in the preseason to help the Cannons prepare for their regular-season games.

The Cannons open their regular season on Sunday against the New York Lizards in Hempstead, N.Y.

Several players on the Cannons have also played in the CroArt men's post-collegiate league, which features players who have played college lacrosse at the Division 1, 2 or 3 levels.

Cannons midfielder and Wellesley native Mike Stone, who has played with CroArt, pledged $10 for every goal scored in the game. His pledge was matched by the Cannons and CroArt.

Stone is the co-founder of GivingSomeThing.com, a website that matches non-profits with donors. He set up the online donation page on the site, with the money being funneled to The One Fund Boston.

Stone has a friend who had both of his legs amputated from injuries suffered serving in Afghanistan. That same friend crossed the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon on his handcycle.

"It took him two years of recovery to get there and it was an incredible achievement," said Stone in a statement. "Back at the finish line hours later, I knew immediately that many others would soon be embarking on similar journeys. Let's support these victims by contributing to The One Fund through this special initiative by the lacrosse community. This is what makes our game special."

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The word

Christopher L. Gasper riffs on the news

Dearth

...That's what the Patriots have when it comes to picks in the 2013 NFL Draft, which starts Thursday. After all those years of stockpiling picks the way a survivalist does non-perishables the Patriots have just five picks in this year's draft, thanks to Band-aid trades for Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco and Aqib Talib. Five picks would be the fewest draft picks in franchise history. (Part of that is attributable to the trimming of the draft to just seven rounds in 1994). Further complicating matters is that two of the Patriots' greatest needs are at wide receiver and cornerback, positions where they have sustained draft droughts. With that in mind, I'm convinced the Patriots are going trade back out of the first round of a quanity-over-quality draft where you're just as likely to pick a Pro Bowl player in the second and third round as you are in the first round.

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