Valley runners join cross-country relay to benefit Boston marathon bombing victims
They come from diverse backgrounds, different cultures and various geographical areas.
The one commonality uniting a group of runners from across the nation who are participating in the second annual One Run For Boston is their compassion for those who were injured or killed in last year's Boston Marathon bombings.
One Run For Boston is a nonstop, cross-country, 3,000-mile relay, crossing 14 states from Los Angeles to Boston, which raises money for the victims of last year's bombings.
The run began March 16, in Los Angeles with the relay baton expected to arrive in Boston April 13, the week before the marathon. The relay was founded in 2013 by three British runners who wanted to show support for the bombing victims.
Melissa Hager of Lehighton is among several local runners who will run Stage 297 with 21 other runners. Each of the 336 stages may have up to 25 runners. On April 10, Hager's team, known as Wargo's Warriors, will run nine miles, with a predicted start time of 8:25 p.m. Hager said her team will carry the torch from Ashfield, Route 895 and the intersection of Blue Mountain Road, to Walnutport, where they will pass the torch to Bart Yasso, a celebrity in the running world who serves as chief running officer at Runner's World.
"As we run through the Lehigh Gap along the D&L, drivers on (Route) 248 will see a green light (relay baton) and our headlamps," Hager said. "The running community is very close, even when people are complete strangers, so we are all friends."
Hager said the team would love for people to come cheer them on as they begin their stage along Route 895 and head toward Bowmanstown to the D&L.
In addition, she said the team would also love a cheering section to greet them in Walnutport as they relay the baton to Yasso and his group.
Hager's team consists of three other local runners: Jackie Hollan from Laurys Station, Zafer Louisa from Allentown, and Kim Hellwig from Bethlehem.
"This is a statement made up of great individuals to express what cannot fully be expressed with words," Louisa said. "I want to be part of it."
Jackie Hollan spoke with The Press about why she is participating.
"I remember watching everything that happened last year with the Boston Marathon bombings and just had the feeling of wanting to do something for those people," Hollan said. I actually got a phone call from a friend, Melissa Hager, about this event and felt it was a perfect way to give back." "
Hager, who has run several marathons, said she was scared by the horrific acts of terror that occurred at the Boston Marathon last year.
"I was moved by the heroes who came to aid the victims," she said. "There were so many innocent people hurt, and three killed, by such a vicious act of terror."
The team's run leader is Jennifer Wargo of Downingtown, Chester County.
"April 15 was such a dark day for our running community, and One Run For Boston was a way to shine light, spread hope for healing," she said.
Hager said participants are asked to raise funds for One Run For Boston.
As of this week, the event had raised $360,000. Last year's event raised $91,000.
Donations may be made at onerunforboston.org.