On any given weekend these past few months, Sean Kane, MCAS ’19, ran 15 miles. This was after a week filled with early morning runs, biology classes, work, volunteering, and club meetings. He always saved his longest runs for his days off, so he wouldn’t have to squeeze them in between his other commitments.
A reasonable person might ask Kane why he would add long runs and constant training to an already jam-packed routine. But he’d rather talk about Thiago.
Thiago is a child with special needs who meets with Kane, his buddy, every week at the Boston College Campus School. On Fridays, Kane interacts with Thiago and helps him as he learns to walk. They can’t speak to each other conventionally, as Thiago uses signs and symbols to communicate, such as touching his chest to indicate that he would like to see something. Despite this, Thiago’s teachers at the Campus School have worked at this sign language and have turned it into an advanced way to communicate. His ability to learn has significantly developed, and Kane continues to witness his progress with every visit.
“His time at the Campus School has done so many great things for him, and I’m learning more and more of them every time that we get together,” Kane said.
Gina Iozzo, the co-president of the Campus School Volunteers and MCAS ’17, first met Kane when he started volunteering for the Campus School.
“His connection with his buddy Thiago … is just so beautiful to watch,” she said. “The two of them are just like little best friends, like bros hanging out.”
The educational services and specialized care Thiago receives at the Campus School are made possible through fundraising. For years, the Campus School raised a large portion of its money by sponsoring unregistered bandit runners, who jump into the race and run alongside its official participants. The program received great interest from people who wanted to run but didn’t want to go through the difficulty of qualifying for the Marathon. While runners might only raise a few hundred dollars each, there were so many of them that the money ended up being a substantial part of the Campus School’s fundraising efforts. But after the 2013 Marathon bombings, bandit runners were no longer allowed in the race due to security concerns.
“It was a huge hit to us financially,” Iozzo said.
The next year, the Campus School and its volunteers had to search for a way to make up the lost bandit runner donations. For the first two years after the bombing, the school hosted its own fundraising race a week before the Marathon. Runners would run the same route and take on donations like before, but since they weren’t running during the actual Marathon, the interest was not substantial enough to make up for the money that the bandit runners used to raise. Instead, they put their efforts into getting registrations for the official Marathon and finding qualified runners to fundraise and run the race.
While he had never run a Marathon before, Kane had experience running in high school. More importantly, he wanted to help. Working with BC Best Buddies, which pairs a BC student and a person with special needs, he had developed an interest in service and mentorship. This led him to contact the Campus School and see different ways he could get involved. He had heard about the Campus School’s marathon fundraising efforts and asked if there was a way he could participate in that. When they offered him the chance to run for them, he leapt at the opportunity and got to work.
“This training has been definitely so much different than I expected,” he said. “A lot of times there were like unexpected snowstorms when I had to do my long runs.”
The rigorous training is unlike anything Kane’s done before and comes on top of his other commitments. While training for the Marathon, he is still on the eboard of Best Buddies, works for the Office of University Advancement and as a student health coach, and participates in WeRunBC.
“It’s like my maximum commitment right now,” Kane said.
Every Friday, he still meets with Thiago in between his other meetings and runs. It reminds him of the good the Campus School does as he works toward his fundraising goal.
Now the moment of truth is only a week away. Kane’s family is coming out to see him run the race alongside the hordes of BC kids lining Commonwealth Ave. Much of the excitement from his friends and families comes not only from seeing him run, but from knowing the good that he is doing. He expects to see many familiar faces cheering him on.
“It would be a pretty surreal moment when I pass a lot of them,” he said.
The reactions of those onlookers has been one of the most rewarding parts of training for Kane.
“When I tell them why I’m running the Marathon, it is the best feeling,” he said. “And it lets me know that this has been worth all of the hard work and all of the sweat and all of the runs.”
Featured Image Jake Catania / Heights Staff