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From Best Buddies To Marathon Buddies

Content provided by John Hancock
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Best Buddies is a global volunteer movement and non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) by providing opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development. More than 800,000 individuals throughout the world are positively impacted by Best Buddies programs. To help raise funds and awareness for Best Buddies Massachusetts, one of the B.A.A.’s charity teams, Craig Welton, the State Director of Best Buddies Massachusetts, and Alosha (Big Al) O’Brien, are running the 2014 Boston Marathon as a Duo Team with Craig pushing Alosha in a customized wheelchair. . This past November, the duo completed the Manchester City Marathon course in a 4:30 time, which qualified them for the Boston Marathon.

Craig Welton and Alosha (Big A) O’Brien are taking the concept of “training buddy” to a whole new level as they embark on their journey along the historic route from Hopkinton to Boston on Marathon Monday. The push chair duo will raise awareness and funds for an organization very near and dear to both their hearts – Best Buddies Massachusetts. Craig admits that although it may appear that he is pushing Alosha on race day, Alosha is the force that helps to pull them both over the finish line.

Alosha was born in Gomel, Belarus, in 1984 and raised in an orphanage since 11 months old. He came to Milton, Massachusetts, in 1997 through the Chernobyl Children’s Project and was supposed to stay for one month over the summer. He was allowed to extend his stay due to numerous ailments he would receive treatment for at Boston area hospitals.

Craig Welton and Alosha (Big A) O’Brien. (Image from John Hancock)

Craig Welton and Alosha (Big A) O’Brien. (Image from John Hancock)

During his extended stay, Alosha was enrolled in Milton Public Schools and shortly thereafter began the process of adoption, officially becoming a part of the O’Brien family in 2000! While at Milton High School, Alosha became a very active member of his community and school. He joined the band, became an active member of Best Buddies and worked as an usher at the local movie theatre. Upon graduating high school, Alosha has become increasingly active in advocacy for people with disabilities and serves in a leadership role for Massachusetts Advocates Standing Strong (M.A.S.S.) in addition to his role as a Buddy Ambassador for Best Buddies.

Alosha has been part of the Best Buddies Massachusetts Jobs Program since 2008, and secured his dream job at Kel & Partners in 2011 where he serves as the Office Assistant for the Boston-based PR firm. Thanks in large part to his amazing coworkers, Alosha has flourished at Kel & Partners where he has honed his office skills and become a shining example of what people with disabilities are capable of if given a chance. In 2012, Alosha was selected as the Best Buddies Jobs Employee of the Year for his tremendous efforts and success.

I’m so excited to be embarking on this adventure with Alosha. He is an unbelievable inspiration to everyone he comes in contact with and his enthusiasm is contagious. Although it may look like I am pushing him come race day, he’s the one who will be pulling both of us over the finish line!
– Craig Welton

By participating in the 2014 Boston Marathon, I want to show everyone that people with disabilities are capable of anything with a little support. I’m proud to be participating in marathons on behalf of Best Buddies which is an organization that helps people achieve their goals and dreams. I hope that other people with disabilities will be inspired by our efforts to push further and work toward achieving what they may have thought to be impossible.
– Alosha O’Brien

#WeRunTogether
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