Charities Bounce Back from Last Year’s Marathon Tragedy

By Weiwen Zhao

BU News Service

Last April, Paula McLaughlin said she was at the finish line of the Boston Marathon taking pictures of the five runners on her team when the first bomb went off.

All she could see was smoke, pluming up like a mushroom cloud, she said.

“It was so loud,” McLaughlin said. “It was deafening. And I could taste it. I could sort of feel the smoke in my throat,” she said.

Although she was only about 90 feet from the bomb, she said she was not injured, but did not sleep well for months afterward.

McLaughlin, 48, is the director of development and public relations of Hale Reservation, one of the charities raising money for the marathon this year. Hale Reservation is a non-profit educational organization, in Westwood, best known for its summer camps for children from low-income schools.

Last year was the first time Hale Reservation joined the Boston Marathon as a charity. Fifteen people ran for Hale Reservation then, and five of them crossed the finish line before the bombing. The size of the team is the same this year with ten of last year’s runners, including the seven who didn’t finish because of the bombing.

After the bombing, McLaughlin said she told her friend Jeff Mahoney that no one was ever going to want to run for her or for Hale again. But Mahoney disagreed, she said, and told her that everybody was going to want to participate next time. Once the marathon runner’s application process had been closed, McLaughlin still got emails from different applicants every day.

In their team, most of the runners are local residents who serve on their charity’s board, or have worked for Hale as lifeguards and swim instructors.

“They know the kids that are benefiting from the charity money,” she said.

With a “Did Not Finish” pass from the Boston Athletic Association, the seven runners who didn’t finish could have run this year without fundraising from any charity. However, they chose to raise money again, McLaughlin said.

“Some of them have raised about $5,000 for us,” she said.

The highest record now is almost $9,000 for a single runner.

They raised money primarily for the kids to participate in science education or a team-building program.

“We serve 4,400 children each summer, and about half of them come to Hale with financial aid,” McLaughlin said. Between 800 and 900 of the kids come from Boston.

All charity and nonprofit programs involved with the marathon have raised over $23 million so far, according to Crowdrise, an online donation website.

Another foundation fundraising was formed by the parents of eight-year-old Martin Richard, who was killed in the marathon bombings.

“It’s ready to hit $900,000,” said Susan Hurley, the founder of Charity Teams, last Monday. The Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation, also known as “Team MR8,” had already raised $905,382.

Hurley has been assisting charities, such as Team MR8, to raise money and train runners for seven years.

Charity Team is assisting 21 teams this year, including 321 runners. The total fundraising goal is $3 million, and they are a little over $2.6 million now, according to Hurley. Last year, with 250 runners, they raised $1.6 million.

To cope with re-emerging feelings about the bombing, Hurley brought a trauma specialist to a meeting to help this year’s runners who also ran last year to overcome the emotional difficulty.

“Remember what happened, but try to move forward and make it a happy event for this year,” she said. “Because the Boston Marathon should be a happy event.”

Brighton IHOP Gives Out Free Pancakes for Charity

IHOP gave out stacks of free buttermilk pancakes to customers Tuesday for charity. Shuqing Zhao reports.

By Chen Shen
BU News Service

With a goal of raising $3 million nationwide, IHOP restaurants gave out free buttermilk pancakes Tuesday in hopes of attracting customers’ donations to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, among other charities.

At the Brighton IHOP restaurant, a blue donation box was placed next to the cash register. Colorful balloons were attached on the box, where pictures of smiling children’s faces were printed. Yellow balloon stickers covered the walls.

“We expect customers to donate voluntarily,” IHOP general manager Ann Mullins said. “Our revenue won’t be counted as donations.”

IHOP has been following this tradition since 2006 in honor of National Pancake Day, March 4.

According to the restaurant’s website, the offer is open to all, but there is a limit to one free short stack of buttermilk pancakes per guest.

The Brighton IHOP restaurant is located at the intersection of Soldiers Field Road and North Beacon Street. There are several public schools in the neighborhood, and some students showed up for lunch.

“Can we just take the pancakes?” one student asked the cashier when he lined up at the IHOP entrance.

The cashier pointed at the blue box next to her.

“We are giving out the short stack pancake worth $4.99 on the menu, but if you want any toppings like the cream or strawberries, you have to pay for that,” IHOP employee Catherine Jomec said.

Jomec held a yellow balloon-shaped pamphlet while a customer approached the cash register to pay for his meal.

“You will be helping the Boston Children’s Hospital and kids suffering from illnesses,” Jomec said.

Every guest that donates received a $5-off coupon good for his or her next visit, Jomec said.

Apart from showing customers to their tables, Jomec’s job was gathering customers’ signatures on balloon pamphlets and sticking the paper balloons on to the wall, she said.

“There are definitely more people coming today because of the event,” Jomec said. “I would say there is about 60 percent more.”
A red sticker was attached to her shirt, which said, “Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals” printed in a yellow circle.

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals is a nonprofit organization that raises funds for 170 member children’s hospitals and medical research, according to their website. They provide 32 million treatments each year to children across the United States and Canada.

The organization has raised more than $5 billion since 1983, most of it $1 at a time through the charity’s Miracle Balloon icon, according to IHOP’s website. The organization has reported that 100 percent of the proceeds will go to local charities. Boston Children’s Hospital will receive this year’s IHOP donations.

“Last year, we raised $3,000 in this particular restaurant,” General manager Ann Mullins said. “Our goal this year is $4,500, which is 15 percent higher.”

Mullins thanked customers who put change in the blue donation box and urged waitresses to hurry up cleaning tables.

Mullins said she couldn’t release the exact amount of donations for the day since it would be gathered and counted later. She also said many students accept the free buttermilk pancake meal without donating.

“You see, there are so many high school kids,” Mullins said. They don’t really donate.”

The event ran from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. at every one of IHOP’s 1,500-plus locations, but was only valid for dine-in customers.