Thank you for visiting my Special Olympics Massachusetts Xtra Mile fundraising page for the 2020 Boston Marathon! The day before my 26th birthday, I will run 26.2 miles across the Boylston Street finish line to support this amazing organization and its mission to create a better world of inclusion and acceptance. Read on to learn more about my personal connection to Special Olympics, and why I am so honored to run on the Xtra Mile team.
The Athlete: My Aunt Celeste
My Aunt Celeste will remember your birthday, even if you only met her once 10 years ago. She is a fact enthusiast and storyteller. She has a great laugh, and a big heart. She is also a 30+ year Special Olympics Massachusetts (SOMA) athlete. I’m her niece, running the 2020 Boston Marathon on the Xtra Mile team, because I want every athlete, regardless of ability, to share the empowerment, sense of community, and joy that my Aunt Celeste experiences with SOMA.
The first time I watched my Aunt Celeste compete at the SOMA Summer Games at Harvard Stadium, I called out her name as she was walking to the start line for her race. The biggest smile stretched across her face as she yelled back, “Aimee, my Aimee!” and turned quite a few heads—even across the McCurdy track. From “ready, set, go” to crossing the finish line, my Aunt Celeste never took her eyes off me and my friends who came to cheer her on. Later that afternoon I took out my phone and searched: “Special Olympics Boston Marathon team.”
The Legacy: My Nana & Papa
My Papa, and my Aunt Celeste’s father, is 92 years old, and still an active SOMA volunteer. How incredible is that? I always knew he was an avid volunteer, but later discovered that his experience was shared by my Nana, his wife, before she passed. Most of my memories of my Nana are fragmented or handed down by relatives, so only later I came across a copy of her obituary and learned she received an outstanding award for her dedication and commitment to Special Olympics. Again, how incredible is that? One day I hope to positively impact as many people as my Nana and Papa have in their lifetimes.
The Alma Mater: Vassar College and Special Olympics New York
In college I was the Vassar Athletics Community Service Representative, and helped create a partnership between Vassar Athletics and Special Olympics New York (SONY). Groups of student-athletes and I jumped into frigid waters for the annual Polar Plunge, volunteered at local Special Olympics events, and hosted a Unified Sports volleyball tournament on campus. It was hard work to coordinate, but always rewarding. This past summer, Vassar co-hosted the SONY Summer Games, and I am so proud that I helped lay the framework for my alma mater’s ongoing relationship with Special Olympics.
The Question: Why Run the 2020 Boston Marathon for Special Olympics Massachusetts?
Fast forward a few years from my initial “Special Olympics Massachusetts Boston Marathon team” search. I am honored and privileged to run the 2020 Boston Marathon on the Xtra Mile team. The opportunity to spread Special Olympics’ mission is my next step to not only support athletes like my Aunt Celeste and to continue my Nana and Papa’s volunteer legacy, but to pave my own path as an advocate for Special Olympics. Because I know that together we can create a better world of acceptance and inclusion.
Thank you for reading, thank you for supporting Special Olympics Massachusetts, and thank you for your encouragement in the coming months. Boylston Street finish line-- I'll see you on April 20, 2020!