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As soon as I heard about the explosions in Boston, I panickedly started thinking about who I might know there. Did I know anyone who was running the race? I did. I went straight to Facebook, where I learned she was okay. Her husband had posted that they were both fine and had evacuated their hotel.
It was a relief to hear they were fine, but I was still upset. Like most people, I was confused and horrified. I plugged straight into the news, to Twitter, to Facebook, to Google and furiously started trying to piece together the various news reports with my co-workers.
I felt really connected to this tragedy for some reason. Maybe it’s because I have many friends who run marathons and have run a few myself. Many of us are 4:00-4:10 marathoners, which is right when the explosions hit. So perhaps I felt some sense of solidarity with the runners and spectators. It is a great joy to cross the marathon finish line or to cheer someone on as they do. That moment is worth the months of training and running yourself into the ground. Even as a writer, I struggle to find the right words to describe what that feeling is like, but I can say it is one of those rare moments in your life when you are the happiest you have ever been. To learn that so many people instead experienced terror, confusion, and pain made me so upset. And I felt helpless to do anything about it.
Soon, reports of acts of kindness began to appear. People did everything from open up their homes to send pizza to offer up their frequent flyer miles to fly people home. Airbnb is waiving service fees and is encouraging members to offer their spaces for free. I am sure we will soon learn more of the selfless helpers who offered support whether they were on the scene or on the other side of the country.
I wanted to do something, too. But what could I do? Red Cross issued a statement that they did not need more blood donations. Could I donate money somewhere or to something? Could I do anything?
While I was thinking I should do something, my friend Katie actually did. She whipped up a fundraiser called Chicago Runs for Boston to raise money for the Red Cross and get people together to run in the honor of Boston. Even though Red Cross was not asking for donations, it made me feel better to unite with friends and strangers over the cause. And you can never really go wrong with donating money to Red Cross. They will put the money to good use in some way. You can donate here, too. Donate $10 or $26 or what you can.
So I’ll be at the lakefront next Monday April 22 at 5:30 to meet the Chicago Runs for Boston group for the run. Come join me if you feel up for it! Or grab a few friends and run around the block. To quote my friend Katie, “I personally have found running to be therapeutic and I think sometimes when you're faced with something like this that's violent and horrible, you feel like you can't do anything. I feel like by running, you're doing something.”
Betsy Mikel | betsymikel.com