"26.2 miles of thanks"
Every April, on Patriots' Day—a civic holiday in Massachusetts—the greater Boston area virtually shuts down. But the streets come alive with cheers from 500,000 spectators and the pounding of the pavement from 30,000 runners who take on the Boston Marathon.
Our first team ran the Boston Marathon in 1993. Every year since then, associates have represented Grand Circle in the race, engaging their colleagues here in Boston as they raise funds for charity. Two years after tragedy struck the finish line—when a bombing attack killed three people and injured more than 260 people—our collective commitment to the race and contributing to the larger causes remains as strong as ever.
This year, our annual "Kakes for Kara" auction and raffle raised $29,000 for charity and supported the fundraising efforts of three associate-runners: Lisa Migliaccio and Alyssa Meers, both of whom ran their first marathon for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; and Kathy Wilder, who ran her second marathon for Dream Big!—a nonprofit supporting young female student-athletes.
Migliaccio and Meers ran about half of the 26.2-mile race together, while Wilder ran with her brother-in-law and good friend.
Recounting her experience in a post-race email titled "26.2 miles of thanks" to Boston associates, Wilder wrote: "With soggy feet and smiles on our faces, we counted the miles, laughed at the signs, saw friends and family, high fived fans and thanked strangers for their support. The crowds were especially enthusiastic from mile 17 on, when we needed them the most to get us through the Newton Hills and those final five miles, until we could celebrate the greatest of running joys—turning right on Hereford and left on Boylston for our victory lap to the finish line."
As the rain poured down, event lead and three-year associate Kendra King, a manager for Worldwide Business Operations for the Americas region, was right there cheering them on.
"I was just in tears watching them … and I'm not a crier," says King, who was raised in Boston and can relate to the experience of running the race. She ran in 2014, but couldn't participate this year due to a concussion. She's making plans to run next year.
"It's something to be proud of," says King. "To run in the city you grew up in, you go through the full range of emotions—from pure joy at seeing so many people come out to some of your lowest points of being in pain and asking yourself: 'Am I going to make this?' And 'how bad is my sunburn?'"
But no matter what the conditions are, "you push through it and run on" as Wilder puts it.
King agrees. "It's just incredible," she says. "I'm excited to run next time."
A special Mother's Day gift
On May 2, a team of seven Boston associates and their family members spent Saturday afternoon putting smiles on the faces of 20 low-income senior women at Grand Circle Foundation's annual Mother's Day luncheon. This special event has been a company tradition since 1994—when the Foundation first partnered with the Boston chapter of Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly.
Since 1979, the organization has been dedicated to relieving isolation and loneliness among the elderly in Boston. Originally founded in France in 1945, this national network of nonprofit, volunteer organizations provides companionship, support, and care for seniors while connecting them with the larger community.
5-year associate Rachel Miller, a sales supervisor who commits to volunteering at least once each quarter, stepped up to lead this year's luncheon. She says she was especially excited about interacting with the women.
"I wanted to spend the day with the women—those without family and children around—and make them feel special and loved," she says, adding that part of this meant being attentive to even the smallest details—like the utensils used in the place settings.
"We wanted the event to be classy. So we used nice plates and real silver," she says. "I didn't want them to feel like they were coming to a backyard barbecue."
The Foundation catered a delicious menu of three courses: Caesar salad with bread and butter, eggplant parmesan, chicken-broccoli ziti, and for dessert, a cake that read: "Celebrating Beautiful Women."
Miller says everyone was in great spirits—even when the scheduled entertainer, an acoustic guitarist, canceled.
"We had Frank Sinatra playing in background, which is great because it allowed for more interaction," she says. "One woman from South Boston kept everyone laughing with her jokes."
With catering set for twice as many people, each woman was able to take home a prepared platter to enjoy for dinner. They also left with flowers and goodie bags stuffed with treats.
By the end of the afternoon, Miller and her crew went away satisfied that they had brought joy into the lives of some very special seniors.
"These women have been through a lot," says Miller. "And it's up to the younger generations to make them feel important and take care of individuals regardless of their background or differences. It feels good to make a difference and feel more connected to our community."
Featured in our Summer 2015 E-Newsletter.