Charity teams form in honor of marathon victims
BOSTON -- Charity teams are forming to run the 2014 Boston Marathon in honor of victims of the deadly bombings at last year's race.
The charitable foundation started by the parents of 8-year-old Martin Richard announced Thursday that it had selected 72 runners from more than 250 people in 35 states and several other countries who submitted 11-page applications.
"Many of them were emotional and told of personal experience with tragedy, perseverance and heroism," said Denise Richard, Martin's mother. She and her husband, Bill, were among more than 260 people injured in the April 15 bombings. "Some stories were difficult to read, but every single application was read carefully and considered fully. In many ways, the process was good for Bill and me."
Martin died and his 7-year-old sister, Jane, lost her leg when two shrapnel-loaded pressure cookers exploded near the marathon finish line. Also killed were 23-year-old Lu Lingzi, a Boston University graduate student from China, and 29-year-old Krystle Campbell of Arlington.
The Boston Athletic Association, which manages the marathon, has not said how many race bibs it made available to family members of victims. Each year, about 30 charities get bibs for participants who are running the 26.2 miles to raise money for them. Unlike other runners, charity runners do not need a certain time in another race to qualify.
Some of the runners on the Richards team had already qualified for the race on their own, and the group is still accepting applications from runners with bibs who want to join. The foundation did not say how many bibs it was granted by the BAA.
This year, the BAA set aside a few hundred entries for people who wrote essays about how they were personally and profoundly affected by the bombings. That was after expanding the field by 9,000 to accommodate runners who did not finish last year because of the bombings and others who wanted to run in tribute. This year's expected field of 36,000 would be the second biggest in the 118-year history of the race.
In addition to 14 residents of Dorchester, where the Martins live, their foundation's team includes U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Blake Boldon, executive director of the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. Also running will be Sean Murphy, the retired Massachusetts State Police photographer who released photos of the dramatic capture of bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev without authorization after Rolling Stone put Tsarnaev on its cover. Others on the team include Molly Akers and Samantha Kirkham, who had never met the Richards but organized a run outside Chicago to support them shortly after the bombings.
The team will raise funds for the MR8 Foundation, which invests in education, athletics and community.
Boston University said Thursday that Lu's parents are making five of the 15 marathon spots they were given available to members of the BU community. Applicants have until the end of the day Feb. 7 to submit written statements or videos explaining what running the marathon in her honor would mean to them. The other 10 spots will go to people chosen by the family.
Money raised will benefit the Lu Lingzi Scholarship Fund, which gives two graduate students an annual stipend and tuition for up to two years. The fund already has raised more than $1 million.
"BU is dear to our heart," said Helen Zhao, Lu's aunt. "The family wants to continue to support BU and Lingzi's scholarship, hoping more students can benefit from it to pursue their dreams."
There also will be teams running in honor of people badly injured in the bombings. The marathon is April 21.
Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press
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