BOSTON (CBS) – When the Boston Athletic Association announced that it would make 50 marathon numbers available to runners willing to raise money for the One Fund, no one knew how many people would apply.
The numbers were staggering: 370 people applied for those 50 slots.
And it was up to a small team of employees at Marathon Sports to go through the applications, read the essays and choose the runners.
Beyond the sheer number of applicants, reading the essays was tough. The Marathon Sports employees were deeply affected by the attacks at the finish line. The first bomb went off outside the Boylston Street store.
Many of the employees instantly became rescuers. Choosing and now training the One Fund team is part of their healing.
“One of the most remarkable experiences I’ve ever had is going through that many personal accounts of why being on this team was so important to so many people,” said marathoner Dan Soleau of Marathon Sports.
Soleau is running his second Boston Marathon this year. And he couldn’t be more proud of the men and women who make up the One Fund team.
“They’re really a remarkable group,” he said.
Among the members of that group are 37 local runners, and 13 from as far away as California and Texas.
They all agree to raise at least $8,000 each. Most will raise far more. And the participants say running for survivors provides great inspiration.
“I want to do something,” runner Bob Andy said. “I want to do something that’s going to make a difference.”
They’re on a fairly tight training schedule. Because the creation of the team wasn’t announced until January, the runners have a shorter window to train for the race and to raise money.
But that’s hardly a deterrent, even in an unforgiving winter.
“That was everybody. That was every man, every woman who was at the finish line. My friends. Your friends. My family. Your co-workers,” said veteran marathoner Joanie Kelly.
And she applauded all the runners turning out in force this year to restore the joyful memories to the event.
“Every single person on the course this year is doing it for all the right reasons. It’s motivational just to be a part of it,” she said.
Another One Fund runner is Peter Payack. He ran in 2013 but was stopped on Mass Ave.
Initially angry he wasn’t able to finish, Payack ultimately felt relieved that he wasn’t near the finish line when the bombs went off.
When the photos of the suspects were released days after the bombings, Payack recognized the younger Tsarnaev brother as a boy he had once helped coach in wrestling.
“It ended up being a lot closer to me than I thought it was…I’m doing this for people who are seriously injured, who might never run again. It’s a big motivation,” he said.
And the goal — that famous finish line — is never far from their thoughts.
To donate to members of the One Fund team running the 2014 Boston Marathon, CLICK HERE.
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