BOSTON (CBS) — Since the first charity runners in 1989, fundraising teams have been an important part of the Boston Marathon. And they’ll be back on the road this fall.

They aren’t elite runners — just people who want to give back. And uniting for that common goal creates lasting bonds. Just ask Taylor Chin and Ben Westlake, who first met five years ago.

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“We are raising money to help the kids at Children’s Hospital feel better,” Ben told WBZ-TV back in 2016.

That was when 7-year-old Ben became Taylor’s patient partner for the Boston Marathon. Taylor was a Wesleyan College soccer player and a former patient partner. He had never run a marathon before. Ben was a patient at Children’s, and the two bonded immediately over the very challenging 26.2 mile run.

Now five years later, Ben is in middle school and Taylor has graduated and is working in New York City. The relationship has grown well beyond the race.

“I think we’ve built a really special bond between Ben and I and Ben’s family. We anticipate being a part of each other’s lives for a long time,” said Taylor.

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“It’s still going good,” said Ben. “We both like sports, like soccer.”

And Ben has not stopped giving back to Children’s Hospital, including a fundraising dinner in Pittsfield. During COVID, that Pittsfield dinner turned into a takeout fundraiser so they could still raise money.

“It feels really good. It’s a good feeling helping other people,” Ben said.

This marathon partnership is not over.

“I think in 2027, I’ll be able to run my first marathon with him and hopefully by then, I’ll have my own patient partner too,” explained Ben. “I like raising money for kids like me that need help.”

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“I think it’s super cool and something I’m really proud of Ben for, and it’s the exact same reason I got involved in the first place,” added Taylor.

Kate Merrill