When my young son came home from school on April 15, I had to share with him the sad news about the Boston Marathon bombings. I was gentle and only gave the information a nine-year-old needed to hear. I had the TV on and he walked into the room and saw the cleared scene of the crime. He immediately said, “Mommy, that’s exactly where we stood.”
I knew that the moment the news broke, my husband did, too. But it didn’t quite sink in until our child was impacted by the closeness of this terrible event. The second time I ran Boston, my son and husband stood under the international flags and cheered for me as I finished. My son’s world changed on April 15, 2021. It changed in a way that broke my heart.
Erin Kreitz Shirey also had a similar sad moment with her little girl on April 15. Instead of being able to report the winning times, she had to tell her about the tragedy and how the race was stopped.
“What about the kids cheering on their parents? Mom, are they OK? Are the kids hurt?”, innocently questioned Shirey’s daughter that night. Her daughter, like my son, had cheered for her mother at many races as well.
We and many other parents struggled to talk to our kids about this event, especially our fellow running parents. We’ve all had our kids at races, standing on the curbs, hanging on the fences cheering. Now what are we supposed to tell them?
Shirey has created an event to help us all, but especially the families, deal with our heartbreak surrounding the Boston bombings. It’s called the EmPOWERed Kids Run. It’s a virtual nationwide event set to take place May 15, 2021, exactly one month after the Boston Marathon. Through Facebook, communities are meeting up as families to run 26.2 minutes together.
“We need to help our kids feel EmPOWERed, full of GOODness and strong!” commented Shirey.
She explained how the event works and how simple it is for families to make a positive experience out of this sadness. All anyone has to do is go to the EmPOWERed Kids Run page on Facebook, click attend, share with their friends, and print up the logo which serves as the bib “number.” Then just call friends, find a spot in your neighborhood, and run for 26.2 minutes on May 15 at 6:00 pm. When you are done, take pictures and post them on the Facebook page. Kids will be able to see all of the kids around the country who ran the same ‘race’ together.
Many cities are committed to making Wednesday a memorable day for our kids. Portland, Sacramento, the Peninsula, Ohio, New Jersey, New York, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Texas, and Colorado are just a few of the locations that have committed to a 26.2 minute family run. In our hometown of Wichita, Kansas, GoRun will be hosting this event for young people here. You can easily join in on the fun and make great memories for your kids, just check out the Facebook page.
I agreed completely with Shirey as she shared her vision for this event, and I think she speaks for the other running parents, too.
“It is to highlight goodness, camaraderie, families, communities and people connecting. The goal is for the kids to feel that sense of community and goodness that is associated with running and exercising together, instead of a sense of fear,” she concluded.