The team of runners representing the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation at the Boston Marathon is in the final mile of fundraising before the race on April 18. With more than $200,000 raised to benefit the Myra Kraft Community MVP Award winners, the team came together on April 12 for a pasta dinner and celebration ahead of the marathon.
The dinner was a chance for the 30 runners to relax, reflect and look forward to the race itself. Coach Susan Hurley of Charity Teams helped the team work through the difficulties of running the Boston Marathon, as well as the raising the minimum of $5,000, and was on hand to get runners excited for Marathon Monday.
Even in her ninth year coaching Foundation runners, Susan said working with the organization is still a special experience.
"As a human being, I think carrying on the legacy of Myra Kraft is very important," she said. "Then I think for me personally, being a New Englander and growing up here, working for the New England Patriots and actually being a former cheerleader for the New England Patriots makes it that much more significant for me and something that's really a lot of fun."
That significance is felt by the runners, too. The team is made up of first time marathoners and Heartbreak Hill veterans, but the excitement is the same.
Dan and Garrett Scanlon, a father-son duo from East Greenwich, R.I., are running their first marathon together, though both have completed 26.2 miles individually. When Garrett qualified over the summer with a time under three hours, Dan promised himself he'd find a way in, and he did through the Patriots Charitable Foundation.
"Since [Garrett] qualified, I really wanted to do Boston, and the more I learned about what is done at the Charitable Foundation, it was a perfect match," Dan said.
Garrett, a sophomore at Northeastern University, said he's looking forward to having friends at the top of Heartbreak Hill yelling his name, but the being able to share the experience with his dad and his NFL team has made it all the better.
"Just having [my dad] run it is just another reason to be running versus just running the Boston Marathon, which is fun, but doing it with your dad and doing it with the Patriots," he said trailing off. "I've always been a Patriots fan in general, but the fact that I'm standing here with Patriots stuff that I didn't just buy at Dick's Sporting Goods, it's cool. It's a different connection to the team. I'm always going to remember this."
While the Scanlons are getting ready for their first Boston Marathon, Samantha Hughes is running the race for her seventh time in a row. This year will be her fifth running for the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation team.
She was honored at the pasta dinner for her dedication, and Samantha said she connected with the Foundation's mission from the start.
"What really drew me to the Patriots was that I got to support 26 different foundations, and I think my cause is New England so running on this team is really special to me because I really love the community aspect of it," Samantha said. "I get to help out so many different organizations as opposed to just one."
The Foundation's group of runners isn't the only team with Patriot ties. The Light Foundation, the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, the Gronk Nation Youth Foundation and the Flutie Foundation all have teams running in 120th Boston Marathon. Tedy's Team will also return to the course to benefit the American Heart Association.
The Belichick Foundation has six runners hitting the road this year, including veteran Boston Marathoner Will DiTullio.
Will's connection to the Patriots and the Boston Marathon is an intimate one. After losing his mother, Beverly, unexpectedly in 2009, Will had a personal interaction with Coach Belichick.
"My mom and dad were high school sweethearts, and my dad was having a really difficult time with it. I ended up writing an email to Coach Belichick, told him the circumstances and asked if there was anything he could do to brighten my dad's spirits," Will said at the Team Belichick 26.2 Party on March 31. "A few months later, a letter was written from Coach Belichick to my dad expressing his condolences and saying that hopefully in 2009 the Patriots are going have a good season to give him something positive to think about."
He is running the race for Team Belichick as a thank you to the Patriots head coach. Will is hoping to run his best marathon yet for the team, and he is ready to push it even further.
"Now, we're on to Patriots' Day," Will said with a smile.
Donations to the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation's team will be accepted until May 15 and can be made here.