Running the Boston Marathon separately on Monday morning, both Elizabeth Collins and Angeli Kadade were stopped about a mile away, or just minutes away, from the finish line’s carnage.
While Collins — a Boston resident who was raising money for the Boston Scholar Athletes program for the second straight year — was able to navigate the chaos and make her way to family relatively easily, Kadade was in town from New York City to run for the Dream Big! foundation.
She was totally lost in the aftermath.
“I’m not familiar with Boston at all, I was asking other people where the Westin is,” said Kadade, who didn’t meet up with family at the hotel until after 8:30 p.m., after strangers let her wash up at their Sheraton hotel room. “I was in panic mode to get there.
“I think after running 26 miles you're already so drained, then it was pure adrenalin. We were upset we weren’t able to finish, then we were cold and our body heat dropped. Then once we found out what happened everyone considered family and friends were like ‘Get me out of here.’ ”
Initially, Collins was just as disappointed as Kadade that she wasn’t able to finish the race. After the news of the bombing that killed three and injured scores of others got around on the course, Collins was just as freezing and just as panicked as Kadade.
But being a Bostonian made meeting family much easier for Collins.
“My family came to find me and I went to Mass Ave. to walk down the river to Beacon Hill to get away,” Collins said. “It was like a total free for all.”
While the experiences of these two strangers are on the opposite ends of a spectrum in one sense, it was no doubt a shared experience for two women running for causes that benefit Boston public school students by promoting physical activity.
In fact, the Boston Scholar Athletes program and Dream Big! were two of several nonprofits either entirely or partially dedicated funds to BPS students that were raised through the Boston Marathon Official Charity Program and John Hancock's Marathon Non-Profit Program.
Several other charities that benefited BPS students that were contacted on Tuesday morning reported that their runners were unharmed physically, including MetroLacrosse, Playworks, Tenacity and America SCORES Boston.
Together, the Boston Marathon Official Charity Program and the John Hancock Marathon Non-Profit Program — which provide guaranteed entries into the race for runners fundraising for designated charities — are expected to raise $18 million this year.
So far the BSA has raised $23,295 and counting, while Dream Big! surpassed its $80,000 goal on Monday and Tenacity netted more than $100,000. MetroLacrosse has raised $19,298 so far with more to come, America SCORES Boston logged $26,248 and counting while Playworks has raised $80,000.
“It's a hard day for everyone," Playworks Executive Director Max Fripp said via email,
"but at the core, I wonder if the values we teach 15,000 Boston elementary school students through daily recess and play, might lead to shifts in how we people feel about themselves and the communities where we live and work.”
Fripp noted that they recently completed a two year random control trial with Mathematica with two important findings: 1) Playworks schools have less bullying and aggressive behavior 2) Their students feel more safe and connected.
Other local nonprofits that benefit some BPS students such as AccessSports America canceled events scheduled for Tuesday evening due to the bombing.
Both the BSA and the Sportsmen’s Tennis & Enrichment Center in Dorchester prepared to help students at their Spring Break camps process the traumatic situation.
“In general, I am asking staff to avoid having conversations in front of the children about the events that unfolded yesterday and not to have the lobby television on news stations that will constantly loop the footage,” Sportsmen’s Executive Director Toni Wiley said in an email to members. “However, children are likely to bring this up in conversation, so we should be as prepared as possible to handle it.
“If any student is showing extreme anxiety here at camp, please bring them to Mrs. Houston, to Carlos or to me so that you can continue to work with the other children on your court.”
Kadade wasn’t so sure about sliver linings as she prepared to return to New York on Tuesday.
“I'm not sure there is a silver lining except that my family is safe,” she said via email. “But there are many families that are not, and that are in hospitals. I keep thinking about my race and where I slowed down. If I was two minutes faster my story could have been different.
“Running for charity and hearing ‘dream big Angeli’ throughout the race is why charity runners run. The medal is mine and I didn't get that yesterday but yes, I'm still helping hundreds of girls in the Boston area. And nobody can take that away.”
Collins was back at her desk at Suffolk Construction’s Roxbury headquarters on Tuesday morning.
“I just couldn’t watch the TV any longer,” she said during a telephone interview. “I needed to be around people. I’m still a little sore but a little better than last year, which is good.”
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