The Boston Marathon: A Student’s Fundraising Quest
By VICTORIA CHOO ‘21
“The Boston Marathon is honestly my favorite day of the year,” Ella O’Hanlon ‘21 says. This Boston Marathon, a tradition dating back to 1897, will be held again this year on Monday, April 15. This event continues as the world’s oldest annual marathon and serves as a day of celebration for many across Massachusetts. Each year, the Boston Marathon is held on Patriot’s Day, a Massachusetts state holiday commemorating the battles of Lexington and Concord. Ella O’Hanlon ‘21 will be standing along mile 15 watching her dad, Mike O’Hanlon, compete in his twelfth Boston Marathon.
“He ran two [marathons] when he was younger,” O’Hanlon says about her father, “Later his parents got cancer so he started running for Dana Farber [a Boston-based cancer treatment and research center].” This April will be her dad’s tenth Boston Marathon for Dana Farber.
Over the years, her father has raised over 200,000 dollars for the charity. “He emails a ton of people and he does raffles and fundraising parties,” she says. Out of the hundreds of runners for Dana Farber, Ella’s dad has become one of the top ten fundraisers for the charity.
Because her dad has been fundraising for Dana Farber for so long, last year, he was partnered with a patient whom he ran for. “We got to form a meaningful bond with him,” O’Hanlon reflects. To O’Hanlon, the marathon has always been about community. She says, “My entire family and all my neighbors spend the entire day making signs for my dad and we all come together to cheer him on.”
Although O’Hanlon reflects on mostly happy memories regarding the Marathon, she recalls on the Boston Marathon Bombing. “I remember seeing [the bombing] on the news right as we got home and being so scared,” O’Hanlon remembers. “Luckily, my dad was still a mile away,” she says. Although her dad was not hurt, O’Hanlon reflects on the apprehension she felt returning to the Marathon the following year: “After such a horrible event in 2013, I was a little nervous to come back; but, it was so cool to see how such a tragic event brought our city even closer.” Now, O’Hanlon is proud of the way her community continues to triumph around the many athletes competing. O’Hanlon hopes to follow in her dad’s footsteps and one day run the Marathon herself. “My sisters and I always talk about running it with my dad once we all turn 18,” she says.
Although O’Hanlon has never competed, she has always been actively engaged. “My dad’s been running [the Boston Marathon] since I was three or four so it has been a huge part of my life,” she says. “I’ve been involved in the Marathon for as long as I can remember.” This year O’Hanlon decided to get involved with her dad’s fundraising efforts as well. “Every year, my dad does a ton of fundraising for the marathon through Dana Farber,” she says. “This year I wanted to help out.” O’Hanlon set up a March Madness bracket where half of the proceeds go to her father’s fundraising efforts. Through her bracket, she raised 250 dollars for Dana Farber. “It’s not too much, but it’s a start!” O’Hanlon acknowledges. “I loved helping my dad out this year and hope to fundraise even more in the coming years.”