After a horrible attack on a great American sporting event, one could expect sadness and terror. These negative effects are not the only result, though. Following the events of the 2013 Boston Marathon, an overwhelming amount of solidarity and kinship was evident. Support for those who were injured, the first responders, those whose lives were taken, and each and every one of the runners has been unbelievable, and it truly reveals that even in the darkest of times, there is still plenty of love in the world. Events in support of the Boston Marathon have been popping up across the country. One of these events took place on the afternoon of Sunday, April 21 at Marquette University, one of our fellow Jesuit schools, located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
After spreading the word via social media, 49 students and faculty met in the main quad, “Central Mall.” The event was hosted in support of Boston and as an acknowledgement of the Jesuit connection between Marquette and Boston College. Because the “Final Five” is comprised of the five miles from BC to the finish line, every participant was asked to run five “Marquette miles,” a one-mile loop around the main quad (though many walkers, skippers, and even roller-bladers joined in). Participants were decked out in Boston gear, race shirts, or blue and yellow. There was even a collection jar for those who felt compelled to donate to “One Fund Boston,” and a total of $254 was collected. The event also began with a 26.2 second moment of silence and the national anthem in honor of the victims of the attacks.
One of the organizers of the event was Gina Bartindale, who ran the Boston Marathon this year (Marquette University ’15, College of Nursing). Gina comes from a family of marathoners and has dreamed of running the Boston Marathon since she was 5 years old. This was her first time in Boston, and fortunately, she crossed the finish line about 40 minutes prior to the attacks. By the time of the incident, she was safe with her family about a mile away, and was alerted by calls and texts from worried friends.
After returning to Marquette, Gina was left with a helpless feeling and was compelled to do something in support of Boston. After speaking with a mutual friend, Gina teamed up with classmate Meg McCaffrey, who also ran the marathon, to organize the event at Marquette. Meg was born and raised in Boston, and her mother and brother have participated in the marathon for the past few years for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in honor of her father. After months of training, Meg joined her family at the starting line. Meg was stopped near BC before finishing this year, and she was eager to do what she could for the city of Boston.
“I flew back to Milwaukee Tuesday morning feeling a variety of emotions,” she stated. “When I walked onto Marquette’s campus, I felt completely different. Everything at Marquette felt normal. Nothing had changed. It was as if I was in a very odd dream. A couple days later, I read that BC was hosting a 5-mile run for the people who could not finish the marathon. I thought this was completely admirable and decided I wanted to do the same. I thought it was important to show our support for our fellow Jesuit brothers and sisters and the running community. Ironically, Gina had the same idea.” The two did not hesitate to team up and put their event together, and it turned out to be very rewarding for everyone involved.
When asked about the Jesuit tradition of Marquette and the connection with BC, Gina answered, “The fact that BC was Jesuit definitely was part of the reason we wanted to host the event and acknowledge BC. I can’t imagine what you all went through watching your city suffer, looking for your friends and family, and just being fearful all week. Your campus was so inspiring during the race, but even more so after, as you were ‘men and women for others,’ offering food, phones, blankets, and shelter to the stranded runners. As college students, we can identify with you all and just wanted to show our support. I think it is so important to recognize in all the evil, His mercies were still present; it could be seen through your hospitality and love. I didn’t know you would even hear about our event, but I would love to foster a greater connection between the Jesuit universities.”
Gina and the students of Marquette serve as examples of the strong bond between runners and people all over the country. She said, “I think the spirit of marathoners and the running community is so powerful, inspiring, and unlike any other; no other group cheers on strangers until they are hoarse, makes conversation with random fellow runners, or understands the sweat, blood, and tears that come along with the sport. With all the hate that had been felt towards the events and Tsarnaev brothers all week, all we had left to give was love.”
It was this love that inspired Gina to team up with her friends to finish the race. “Since so many were stopped in front of BC, such a significant part of the course, filled with students just like us, we figured what better way to show our love but through ‘finishing’ the race for those who couldn’t,” she said.