Saturday
September 20, 2014

Staying ‘Boston Strong’

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Staying ‘Boston Strong’

REALTORS® are making sure this year’s Boston Marathon is a time of celebration, and there’s a way you can get involved, no matter where you are.

“Fear” isn’t in Boston’s vocabulary.

A city crippled by two devastating bombings at last year’s Boston Marathon came out strong — “Boston Strong,” to be precise — on the other end. Boston residents rallied with Emerson College students to proliferate that memorable slogan in the days and weeks following the blasts at the marathon’s finish line on Boylston Street that killed three and injured more than 260.

Now, as the April 21 run of the 2014 Boston Marathon approaches, the city is preparing to stand together and celebrate — not mourn — its annual ritual. And at the forefront of the movement to make the Boston Marathon an event of pride are the area’s REALTORS®.

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Jared Wilk, a broker with Benoit, Misner, Simon & Co. in Wellesley, Mass., is one who will be running for the first time in this year’s Boston Marathon. Wilk, who is running to raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, says he decided to enter the race after the bombs hit close to home last year.

He was watching last year’s marathon from a friend’s roof deck at a building near the finish line. He heard the bombs go off, and shortly after, another friend, a doctor who was watching from the roof deck as well, rushed off to the hospital.

“I remember looking at my wife and saying, ‘This is not good,’” Wilk recalls. “We were in the part of the city that was on lockdown. We ended up walking home later that night.

“I made a promise to myself that day that I would run in 2014,” he continues, “in honor of my pride for this city.”

It’s quite a promise he’s made to himself. Wilk describes himself as anything but an athlete.

“I haven’t run two miles since I was a freshman in high school,” he says. Now he’s running 40 miles a week to train for the marathon.

“It’s a matter of standing up against people who think they can do whatever they want,” Wilk says. “You messed with the wrong city. You messed with the wrong people. That’s what running means to me. It’s about standing up for Boston, but also helping other communities get that same message across to people to stand strong.”

The REALTOR® family is helping support members like Wilk who plan to run in this year’s marathon for charity. The National Association of REALTORS®, Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®, and Greater Boston Association of REALTORS® have banded together to put on a fundraiser to benefit REALTORS® running in the marathon and their charities. The fundraiser, called REALTORS® Running for a Cause, will be held April 6; tickets cost $75 or $100 with a commemorative T-shirt, and all proceeds will go toward One Fund Boston, which helps victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and the various charities that REALTORS® are running to support this year. The T-shirts are also available for purchase online at $35 apiece.

Gary Rogers, 2014 NAR vice president of Region 1 — New England — and a principal organizer of REALTORS® Running for a Cause, says he expects 140 to 150 attendees at the fundraiser. Organizers have set a fundraising goal of $25,000, he adds.

“Everybody here knows somebody that runs in the marathon,” says Rogers, CRS, broker-owner of RE/MAX on the Charles in Waltham, Mass. “One of my clients finished 48 seconds before the bombs went off [last year].

“We want to show support, exhibit to our members that we are a part of the fabric of our community,” he says of the fundraiser. “Our whole purpose here is not to create a PR event, but to show support in-house to our people, to thank them, literally, from the bottom of our hearts.”

Rogers says he and 2011 NAR Past President Ron Phipps found inspiration for the fundraiser from people who showed bravery during the difficult time of the bombings — people like Jacqui Webb.

Webb, an agent with Century 21 Commonwealth in Winchester, Mass., was standing in the crowd at the site of the second explosion at the marathon last year. She suffered second- and third-degree burns and shrapnel wounds that caused “three golf ball-sized holes in my legs,” she says. Her fiancé lost one of his legs.

So far, she’s gone through 10 surgeries, with more to come. She hasn’t been able to return to work full-time.

“It’s been difficult,” Webb says. “Recovery has taken a lot longer than I originally thought. I never imagined I’d still be going through surgeries.”

Her company and local association created a fund for her to help her with her medical needs. And in November, Webb met Rogers at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Francisco, where he approached her about getting involved with the REALTORS® Running for a Cause fundraiser, she says.

Webb says she plans to attend this year’s Boston Marathon at a party along the race’s route. But she admits she’s a little anxious.

“Loud noises still get to me,” she says. “I plan on staying inside. I don’t think I’ll go outside.”

Nevertheless, “I have to go on,” she says.

To register for the REALTORS® Running for a Cause fundraiser, or to buy a commemorate T-shirt online, click here(login or account setup required).

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