With 120th Boston Marathon in the books, there is an opportunity to pause from the miles of training run on streets of our Commonwealth, the countless hours of preparation our volunteers made, and the cold calling and social media posts runners, staff and volunteers made in order to make this year’s fundraising effort a success.
And oh what a success it was! At posting time of this article, Team Red Cross 2016 raised over $400,000 dollars. These funds came from family, friends and organizations and will go directly to those most in need here in Massachusetts.
This success is measured in so many different ways. Simply by the numbers, this year’s marathon surpassed all expectations.
An average marathoner will run over 20 miles per week during a 16-week training program. It’s easy to say most of Team Red Cross put in an average of over 400 miles of training simply to complete the 26.2 miles on Marathon Monday. Those with better times usually run even more, twice more on average. So what does all the mileage look like to you and me? If Team Red Cross started a relay race in Boston, and ran their collective training mileage to Los Angeles, our 2016 team made four round trips from Bean Town to the City of Angeles. The hours and hours spent training simply can’t be easily understood until you lace up and commit.
For the 2016 marathon, the American Red Cross of Massachusetts recruited over 350 medical volunteers to serve at 22 of the 26 medical stations along the route from Hopkinton to Boston. These stations are mini emergency room outposts along the course. They offer Vaseline to stop chaffing, band aides for blisters, ice packs and water for cramping muscles, and a place to lie down in the event of a more serious condition. These volunteers are at a minimum emergency medical technicians, with some being ER nurses, former Army medics, police officers and doctors. These folks serve one purpose, from evaluating injuries and treating the smallest of scrapes to notifying an ambulance if a runner requires medical assistance beyond the stations capabilities.
At each medical station is a small group of volunteers, wearing a different color BAA jacket. This year’s Ham radio operators wore a green jacket that made them easy to find in a sea of runners and medical volunteers. While each medical station was equipped with modern VHF radios to communicate information, each station also had Ham radio operators donating their time, expertise and equipment to serve as a backup in the event of a communication failure or other incident. Volunteering enables these operators to serve the public while participating with like-minded individuals as well as doing the hobby they enjoy.
And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the volunteers at the Red Cross regional office in Cambridge where a disaster operations center was stood up to coordinate with local first responders in case of an emergency. Only three years ago, Boston was rocked by the marathon bombings that left runners and spectators injured and in need of assistance. Volunteers at the DOC stood by to provide relief to first responders and launch the Patient Connection Call Center if needed.
Making all this come together is a small team of seasoned volunteers and staff. Nicole Marcotte, Stephanie Walsh and Paul Kastner have been working in various areas of the marathon collectively for over six years.
Nicole is a Major Gift Officer at the American Red Cross of Massachusetts, where she coordinates Team Red Cross each year. Nicole never really stops her marathon work, as one year wraps up she begins anew for the next season. She is the direct contact for all runners on the team and helps them with fundraising advice, promotes them on social media and organizes events to ensure a positive marathon experience.
Stephanie and Paul work to coordinate all volunteers that support not only Red Cross runners, but all runners on the marathon course. Stephanie works closely with the Boston Athletic Association to ensure sufficient numbers of volunteers, that each volunteer meets the medical requirements and are properly credentialed for the race. Paul works to organize all credentialing, equipment from various first-responder suppliers and the sought after BAA windbreakers.
Together, over 400 staff and volunteers work closely together to ensure Team Red Cross and the volunteer efforts for the Boston Marathon go smoothly year after year. A successful marathon and Red Cross team is never guaranteed, but with the efforts of so many working for a common goal, it’s always right around the corner.