Citizen Schools Boston Marathon Runners Have Pride

If there’s anything we have learned about Boston over the past year, it’s that pride, perseverance, and strength are incredible forces. As a Boston-based organization, Citizen Schools is proud to have had an incredibly dedicated team running on our behalf at the Boston Marathon today. We want to take a moment to celebrate our runners and thank them for their commitment. We had the pleasure of speaking to our teammates about the reasons they are running..

Coach Ernie Taylor...Since 1967 (my first marathon and the year of the very first official women entrant), the Boston Marathon has impacted my life. I have always believed in "Paying it Forward," even before it became fashionable. Running has helped me do that. Last year, being at the finish line and seeing the tragic events unwind really impacted us all. The Boston Marathon was "our" race and that event changed it forever. I can't run this year because of heart surgery last year, but I am very proud to be the team's coach. Even though I'm not running, I know it will be the best Boston Marathon ever. On Monday I helped paint the starting line and it really meant the world to me. I truly believe in the Boston Marathon and the mission of Citizen Schools. This year, Team Citizen Schools has come together to not only run the Marathon but to again "Pay it Forward" by raising funds to help Citizen Schools’ programs. The children benefiting by these programs now are our future!

The team of Orchard Gardens K-8 School students wishing Petra good luck at the marathon.

Petra Weiss...I was first introduced to Citizen Schools at a student apprenticeship presentation in Boston. I currently work for Google in San Francisco but when I lived in Boston, I was fortunate enough to teach the Brand You apprenticeship with Google a few times in addition to volunteering in other ways with the organization. I am running for Citizen Schools because of its commitment to creating opportunities for thousands of middle schools students. The bonds that are formed through volunteering with Citizen Schools are incredible. Upon finishing each semester, you can always find a student that is entirely changed because of what you taught him/her. It has been a dream of mine to run a marathon and I truly feel like now is the perfect time. I am honored to run for an organization I love, in a city I love, for a cause I believe in.

Johnathan Alkire...I grew up in an academic environment that represents all too well what Citizen Schools aims to improve.  I know what it feels like to be a student at a struggling school. As with many students at underperforming schools, I was mostly unaware of the opportunity gap around me. It wasn't until I decided to pursue higher education that I became more aware. I had never been to a college fair, had no guidance counselor talk to me about options other than enlisting in the military or learning a trade, and had no idea that college was even an option. I figured out how to apply to colleges on my own, how to get financial aid, and how to register for my first semester. In my first year of college I had to take several extra classes to catch up to my peers who had had better secondary education than mylsef. Graduating college was a defining moment for me. I am passionate about showing all students that there are opportunities out there. When their eyes are opened to the possibilities, society benefits from the gifts they have to offer. Every child deserves a fighting chance. I am running for Citizen Schools because I want to be a part of helping children have brighter futures.

The team of Orchard Gardens K-8 School students wishing Meggie good luck at the marathon.

Meggie Patterson...I have always wanted to run a marathon -- it has been on my bucket list. I was waiting for the right opportunity where I could do it for something that I cared about deeply as well as doing something that I personally wanted to achieve. It has been so meaningful for me to sponsor a class of 7th grade students at Orchard Gardens K-8 School by being a part of this marathon team. Every day this winter as I ran in the cold and ice, I continued to think about how fortunate I have been and that my support will make a difference for the 17 students in the class. I have lived in Boston for almost nine years now and Marathon Monday is my favorite day of the year. With everything that happened last year, I am honored and excited to run with so many amazing and motivational people.

Richard Connolly...It’s hard to find a better day in Massachusetts than the third Monday in April. I ran my first Boston Marathon in 2006. Last year, my first time actually living in Boston, I ran the last nine miles with a buddy who was in the race. We were stopped just before turning onto Hereford. That night, I found out my friend I coach baseball with was badly hurt in the bombs and I decided to run the whole thing in 2014. Running for Citizen Schools was a bit lucky for me because I received a bib through Meggie Patterson. I'd known a little about the program through Meggie and because a colleague's wife is the President, but after getting my bib, I did my research. Having worked in education for nine years, I understand and respect what good schools and focused after-school programs can do for a child, and it's really an honor to run for Citizen Schools. I recently met with the class I will be sponsoring, the Orchard Garden's 8th graders, while they were writing essays about their biggest dream in life. One boy wants to start a restaurant in Las Vegas called Lavish Living. He's going to charge you 300 dollars a plate. He promises it will be really good. I believe him, and I'm thankful for everyone who has donated to my run this year.

Melissa Aureli...My daughter Michaela and I have been training hard together since January 1 and were very excited to run together this year. Last year I was stopped at the top of Heartbreak Hill (21 miles in) and I knew that I needed to try again, so I was thrilled to find out that I could officially run again. Unfortunately, we found out that Michaela couldn’t run “unofficially” but we decided to train and fundraise together regardless. We are excited to fundraise for Coach Ernie's favorite cause...Citizen Schools. We recognize that this year's marathon will be momentous on many fronts and Michaela and I are happy and honored to be part of this amazing team.

We are proud to know everyone on Team Citizen Schools who dedicated months of training to run in support of our students. Thank you for your commitment and thank you, Boston, for your unwavering pride. We run together!

If you are interested in donating to Team Citizen Schools please visit our Crowdfunding page.