Campus School Volunteers Look Toward Upcoming ‘Chilly Half-Marathon’

April 15, 2013: Three people dead. Over 260 wounded. The Boston Marathon bombing robbed civilians of their lives, family members, and limbs. While the event still occurred the next year—drawing a record count of runners—heightened security in response to the tragedy has kept charity groups like the Boston College Campus School volunteers from “bandit” running the marathon. Now, the Campus School is looking to make up for a significant negative shock in its fundraising totals.

Sunday marks the sixth annual Chilly Half-Marathon in Newton. Although it is open to anyone who wants to run, the Chilly Half-Marathon relates especially to BC’s Campus School, serving as a fundraiser for its students, as many Campus School Volunteers decided to raise the money while simultaneously training for the half.

Before participating in this event, the Campus School had originally formed a group of students that ran as bandit runners in the Boston Marathon. After the Boston Marathon Bombing, however, the Boston Athletic Association cracked down on unofficial runners, making sure they would not run, removing an important fundraising effort for the Campus School.

The Campus School is a publicly-funded private day school for children ages 3 to 21 with severe, multiple disabilities. “Our students come to us because the cities or towns that they’re from do not have the proper services for our students to have an appropriate education,” Sean Schofield, volunteer coordinator at the Campus School, said.

As volunteer coordinator, Schofield helps undergraduate and graduate students who are looking to volunteer at the school. “The Campus School volunteers have a threefold mission. One is direct service within the school walls. The second part is awareness. And the third and final part of what the volunteers try to do is raise funds for us.”

Katie Beam, head of the Marathon Committee and LSOE ’17, organizes these volunteers, along with other students who want to run in the Half-Marathon, into teams which represent each student at the Campus School. The Campus School students serve as captains for each team of runners. “We all have students at the campus school that we have relationships with,” Beam said. “That is the only reason realistically I’d ever run—I hate running. For all the students that I worked with, they are peers—it is not really service.”

In terms of fundraising, Beam believes in the new half marathon initiative. “We have 72 runners currently, and they all have to raise at least $225,” she said. Though the Campus School has received large support for this new initiative, fundraising has not yet reached previous levels from before the 2013 marathon bombing. “Our numbers continued to grow and grow over the years until after 2010, 2011, 2012 [when] we started having hundreds of runners,” Schofield said. “And then, of course, everything kind of changed.”

Campus School Marketing and Outreach Coordinator Kristen Morin said the school is struggling to meet its commitment of raising $60 to $70 thousand a year with a depleted base of students running for the school. Two years ago, approximately 250 runners were committed to running for the Campus School before it was announced that the BAA would no longer allow for “Bandit Runners” in the Boston Marathon. That number dropped to around 120 that year when it was announced that the Campus School would host an independent marathon the Sunday before.

Last spring, that number sunk to 18, with only $13 thousand raised in what was once the Campus School’s central fundraising effort.

“The money that they raise goes right to our program for all the excellent things that come over and above what the towns may pay for,” Morin said. “So when you look at what the bombing did—obviously, it was a far more physical and emotional impact—but even years later, there’s all these little trickle-down effects and the Campus School is one of them.”

The Chilly Half-Marathon has come to mean a lot for the volunteers at the Campus School. “Our kids run a marathon everyday,” Morin said. “It gives you some perspective when you can run a mile and one of our kids might take fifteen minutes to walk a hallway. It is every bit as remarkable that they are able to go to point A to point B, no matter how they get there.”

Courtney, a volunteer in the buddy program and CSON ’19, talked about her experience with the her buddy. “The other day we were listening to ‘Thriller’ for Halloween, and I was just clapping along with it,” she said. “Then, my buddy John started clapping with me. That emotion that hits you in the moment is very powerful. I think we watch our peers grow in the classroom, but in addition to that, we are growing beside them.”

Featured Image by Graham Beck / Heights Senior Staff