The 2013 Boston Marathon: One Year Later

If there’s one thing that a lifetime of sports should teach you, it’s that anything can happen.

That was proved in the most confusing, horrifying and heartbreaking way imaginable on April 15th of last year.  As professional and amateur athletes basked in the triumph of competing in and completing the world’s most fabled footrace, the Boston Marathon, tragedy struck.

We were hosting our first Marathon watch party at Forum Restaurant on Boylston Street to honor the contingent of dedicated and generous men and women who joined our Foundation’s Marathon Team.  The team raised funds for our mission to help cancer patients and their families by contributing financial and emotional support when they need it most.  Yet, in the midst of such joy, the unthinkable happened and a day of celebration was shattered.  Marathon Monday should be about uplifting stories, meeting and overcoming personal challenges and fundraising milestones.  In a moment, the bombings had irrevocably changed that.

Now, as we prepare to head to Boston for today’s official tribute marking the one-year anniversary of this senseless tragedy, we find our emotions very mixed.  It doesn’t feel possible that a year has already passed since the last Boston Marathon, yet we’re also energized and motivated by the feelings of unity, resolve, strength and hopefulness that permeate everything surrounding the 118th Boston Marathon.

We’re excited and encouraged that this year’s race is almost here, and immensely appreciative and proud of the fact that a group of 47 amazing runners have joined our Marathon team, Team JAF, and will be taking part in this historic race.

As we look ahead to the future, it is important to reflect on the past and realize that valuable life lesson that sports has taught us: anything can happen.

And in Boston, in the wake of the Marathon bombings, truer words were never spoken.  Not only did we, as a city, acknowledge that anything can happen, we set out to make things happen.  The outpouring of support for one another and the individuals and families affected by the bombings; the donation of time and resources to help neighbors, friends and strangers from every corner of the city; the mobilization of City and State government officials; the police; the focus and drive of the medical community; the mobilization of committed corporate citizens and volunteers: this was the true embodiment of “Boston Strong.”  It was a rallying cry that emerged in the wake of the bombings and it continues to hold true today.

We are moved and inspired by the remarkable achievements of those who survived that awful day.  More than 260 people were injured, many severely, and their stories of resilience, accomplishment and achievement are nothing less than remarkable.  As they strive to regain pre-Marathon normalcy in their lives with a quiet and determined dignity, we know they are among the most humble of heroes and we’re in awe of how far so many have come in so short a time.

Additionally, the local businesses that were dealt such an unexpected blow on what would normally have been a happy and busy day have come back and shown the same “Boston Strong” determination as the customers who visit them.  For us, it’s an honor and a pleasure to revisit Forum for this year’s Marathon with a sense of truly finishing what we started at last year’s race.

The Joe Andruzzi Foundation was founded on the idea that teamwork and perseverance are essential components when striving toward any goal, be it raising funds to assist those battling cancer or finishing a 26.2-mile race.  This year’s Team JAF group is particularly exciting as it contains a mix of cancer survivors, those running in memory of loved ones, and runners proudly wearing “Deferment” and “Profoundly Impacted” bibs.

Last year at this time, no one could have imagined the challenges that our community would face, the steps forward we’d take and the remarkable support we’d receive.

And today, we remember those we lost a year ago, the hundreds still recovering from physical and emotional wounds, and the first responders who bravely ran toward the chaos, not from it.

Boston is a resilient city, and the Marathon is an embodiment of perseverance conquering adversity.  Nothing can, or ever will, change that.

-Joe and Jen Andruzzi