Monday, November 16, 2015

"When I got that call, I cried."

Last week I wrote about my journey of failures and inspiration en route to the Dream Big! 2016 Boston Marathon Team, including one of the things that had always given me pause about signing on to run and raise money for a charity team - the sense that requests for support from friends, colleagues, family, or strangers for a charity team are requests both for gifts to advance worthy causes and subsidies for charity runners' running hobby/obsession. And I wondered about that mix - in particular, how much difference these gifts actually make to the charities in whose name I might run and raise.

That wonder was allayed for me last week, when I joined other members of Dream Big!'s 2016 Marathon Team and guests at their annual gala event in downtown Boston. We had the chance to meet and hear from students, like Takora McIntyre (pictured below), who was honored with the Kathy Dooley Inspiration Award & Scholarship. She spoke with passion, poise, and power about the impact of Dream Big! and sports on her life and aspirations.

Takora McIntyre is presented with the Dream Big! Kathy Dooley Inspiration Award & Scholarship from MC, Candy O'Terry and Dream Big! Founder & CEO, Linda Driscoll

We also had the chance to hear from Tom Grilk, Executive Director of the Boston Athletic Association - who related the story of a dinner conversation with his wife, when it came up that Dream Big! was, after its allotted years in the lineup, scheduled to rotate off the Boston Marathon's charity roster. "She looked at me," he said, "and said, 'NFW.' And that was that."

Significant to that question that still hung with me - about how much difference these charity team efforts make - Dream Big! Founder and CEO Linda Driscoll shared the story of the day she got the call at her home office from the Marathon with news Dream Big! had been selected to participate in the charity team program. "When I got that call, I cried." she said, "Because I knew what it would mean we wouldn't just serve 1,500 girls that year as we had the year before, but many times more."

A few years later, Dream Big! is still a lean operation. Linda still works from that home office. She is still Dream Big!'s only full-time employee. But the group now reaches 6,000 girls every year through equipment donations, program scholarships, sports clinics and the annual Dream Big! Leadership Conferences - a total of 16,000 girls since they started in 2010.

And in support of that work, and of their growing reach to more girls each year, the 5, 7, 10 thousand or more each runner commits to raise does add up to something very meaningful. Linda noted that, as of last year, Dream Big! had raised almost half a million dollars through the Boston Marathon Charity Program. That is a lot of barrier-removing power for girls who may be living in poverty, or even in homeless situations, but still want to play - and would, if only they had that $200 for a bike and helmet, $100 for that dance or fitness class, or even just $50 for that new pair of shoes. And now so many can. 16,000 and counting.

Proud to count myself part of this team effort.

Thank you for considering a contribution to help me run and raise for girls sports.

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