Running the Boston Marathon is no easy feat. Training your body to endure so much, along with training your mind to keep pushing, does not come naturally. Having run the marathon many times, I always encourage others to develop a personal mantra for the race. This should be something that can drive your forward even when your legs beg you to stop.
Colin Sullivan, Public Relations Coordinator for Wediko Chidren’s Services, was one of the runners on this year’s Wediko Boston Marathon Team. Through multiple challenges and adversities, he relied on his mantra to continue moving forward. Here are his reflections from race day.
On Monday, April 20th, 2015, I ran the Boston Marathon for Wediko Children’s Services, an organization that provides essential mental health services to at-risk children and families. Despite a stress fracture at mile 2, I kept running. By the time I finished (6:09:48), the crowd had mostly dissipated and no one was there to greet me at the finish line. I was soaked, I was exhausted, and I was alone.
During my training, our coach Kate Patton Regal encouraged us to develop a mantra. Wanting it to be profound and heartfelt, deep and impactful, fun and lighthearted, and so many other things, I struggled to find the perfect word or phrase that captured my running. That is, until I fell.
I felt embarrassed for having hurt myself, for needing to walk, for being passed by so many people, and for how long it was taking. But I finished. That was because, despite all the factors working against me, I knew that I wasn’t doing it alone.
When push came to shove and slip came to break, it was not training that kept me moving. It was not the correct footwear or the adrenaline. It certainly wasn’t the weather (rain rain GO AWAY). It was the community supporting me.
My mantra from Mile 2 through Mile 26.2 was: “You. Are. Not. Alone.”
I said it with each breath. I said it with each slap of foot against pavement. I said it with each stretch, after every cup of water, and felt it with every rain drop. And it was true. I was never once alone on that seemingly impossible journey.
Here at Wediko, we have centered ourselves around UBUNTU, a South African concept roughly translated to “a person is a person through other people.” The concept indicates that, in order to feel truly happy and fulfilled, we must care for those among us who are not. The disadvantaged, the at-risk, the “troubled youth” that Wediko diligently works with every day. The concept is best understood through Carleton S. Coon, American anthropologist in his book A North Africa Story.
“An anthropologist proposed a game to African tribe kids. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told them that whoever got there first won the sweet fruits. When he told them to run they all took each others hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they had run like that as one could have had all the fruits for himself they said: UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?”
On Friday, May 15th, 2015, Wediko’s entire Boston-based staff team surprised me by providing the finish line experience they felt I deserved. I ran a couple yards to raucous cheering and yelling, was wrapped in a blanket, handed a medal (that was personally procured for me by a fellow Wediko staff) and celebrated.
As I hugged my fellow Wediko-ites, I realized my personal mantra was one that Wediko instills within each staff member and within every child and family we serve. No matter what any of us have endured, how impossible a task seems, or how many slips and breaks and tumbles happen along the way, Wediko makes sure that we are not alone.
We are proud of Colin and all of the Wediko runners.
Colin ran for all of those who work so hard to overcome challenges every day; who are enduring their own painful marathon. We work hard so that they too can realize they are not alone either. Please consider supporting Colin and his journey in honor of all those Wediko supports. Donate here today to support Wediko’s commitment to Colin and so many others who once thought it impossible to move forward.
Kate Patton Regal
Co-written by: Kate Patton Regal, LICSW and Colin Sullivan
Kate Patton Regal, LICSW
Director of Public Relations
M.S.W., Boston University, School of Social Work
B.A., College of William and Mary
Kate Patton Regal started in the Wediko Summer Program as a direct care counselor in 1995. Like many Wediko staff, her experience that summer helped define her career in the human service field. Although a therapist and clinical social worker, Kate is also a runner. Having raised funds many times by running the Boston Marathon, Kate saw the mutual reward of her efforts. She coupled her love of Wediko and her flair for athletic challenges to spearhead Wediko’s athletic fundraising events. Kate now enjoys bringing Wediko’s message to the broader community and developing those mutual rewards.
Public Relations Coordinator
B.A., Concordia College
Colin began his Wediko involvement in the Wediko Summer Program as a Music activity counselor in 2012. After having a truly transformative experience, he returned in the Summer of 2014 as a Program Coordinator after having just completed his undergraduate degree in Psychology, Sociology, and Spanish from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. Colin finds joy in running, singing with the Boston Choral Ensemble, and being an advocate for social justice in all its forms. He is enthusiastic about the opportunity to further cultivate his development and marketing expertise as well as to holistically represent the organization that impacted him so deeply.