One Fund still raising money

In the quiet moments after the chaos caused by the twin bomb blasts at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon, many different people in many different walks of life in many different places likely had the same thought: What now?

And, invariably, many of those people likely had the same next thought: How can I help?

Two of those people, longtime Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick, did many things to help in the immediate aftermath. They dealt with law enforcement, they coordinated with the marathon's staging organization, the Boston Athletic Association, to assist runners still on the course, and they informed the public.

They also recognized the need to help the families of the three people killed and the more than 260 people injured -- some losing one or more limbs -- by the bombs.

To that end, Mayor Menino had an idea and around 10 a.m. the day after, he put it in motion on a conference call with business leaders. On that call was Mike Sheehan, the chairman of advertising firm Hill Holliday.

"The mayor said, 'I'm having a press conference at 5 p.m. to announce the creation of a relief fund,'" Sheehan said. "The message was clear: Get it done.

"The mayor's been in office for 20 years and has great relationships with the business community. So everyone just came together to get it done."

The result was The One Fund Boston, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

On April 16, Hill Holliday put up a website, Bank of America set up the back office, Goodman Proctor LLP handled the articles of incorporation and PayPal set up an account to take donations.

That last part was key, as the money poured in. And poured in. And poured in.

There were six- and seven-figure donations from companies small and large, including the local professional sports teams and their leagues, and there have been small donations from thousands of individuals from across the country and around the world.

To date, The One Fund Boston has raised more than $71 million for those affected. On June 30, just two and a half months after the bombings, $60.9 million was distributed to more than 230 claimants.

"The outpouring of generosity is absolutely unprecedented," Sheehan said.

As treasurer of the fund, Sheehan compares his role in the early days to a player on a baseball field.

"I was just standing there with a catcher's mitt, making sure I didn't drop anything," he said.

Thrown together in just seven hours, The One Fund now is working to establish a long-term role. The organization hired a caseworker to interview the many people affected by the bombings, to determine what their long-term needs may be.

Sheehan said The One Fund is unlikely to distribute money again, rather keeping money on hand to help provide access to care as those long-term needs become clearer.

And while the bulk of the money raised came in during the days, weeks and months immediately following the Patriots Day tragedy, it hasn't stopped coming. The running community has made sure that the cash keeps flowing, as road races -- local and those in far-flung locales -- have decided to donate proceeds and other marathons have donated spots to runners who want to raise money for the charity.

The ING New York City Marathon, which returns on Sunday after being canceled last year because of Hurricane Sandy, is one such example. The New York Road Runners, which holds the marathon, donated 33 guaranteed spots in this weekend's race to runners for The One Fund.

Rebecca Bennett, a 30-year-old high school teacher from New York City, will be running Sunday. She said she'd planned to run NYC since it was canceled last year, but after the bombings in Boston she had added motivation.

Her twin sister, Elizabeth, ran Boston in 2013, finishing before the bombs went off. In fact, Bennett said she didn't know anything about the tragedy until she got a message from her sister.

So when she heard that the NYC Marathon was opening up charity spots for The One Fund, Bennett jumped at the chance to do something to honor those affected.

"I believe the bombs at the Boston Marathon were designed for two intended targets," she wrote in an email. "The first target was the spectators. The bombs were crafted to inflict considerable physical harm on crowds that had gathered near the finish line. The second target was the message of the marathon itself. A marathon is truly a model for how we should live -- it represents ideals of community and goodwill.

"When the crowds were targeted, the spirit of the marathon was also targeted, and I take offense to that. I can't imagine a more powerful counter-argument to the bombings than a field of 47,000 runners taking over the streets of New York to show their solidarity with Boston."

Sheehan said he's been consistently amazed by the generosity of people.

"You had two really bad human beings who did really bad things," he said, referring to the alleged bombers, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. "Money can't replace what a lot of these people lost, obviously."

But with almost 200,000 donations from people in all 50 states and from countries around the world, Sheehan said he thinks The One Fund gave people who wanted to do something a way to help.

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.