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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Camp Shriver Marathon Team Preps for Big Race


Image courtesy of Barbara Gildea.




When summer rolls around, the Clark Athletic Center field comes alive with more than 100 local children, and is transformed into Camp Shriver. The camp, which is run out of the UMass Boston Center for Social Development and Education, serves children from underprivileged communities as well as those with special needs. This year, in an effort to raise funds, the camp will be fielding a 15-person team in the Boston Marathon, to be run on April 15th. Each runner has to raise a minimum of $4,000 to be allowed to participate in the race, and every penny will go directly to the camp, which employs many UMass Boston students and faculty.

Camp director Barbara Gildea said, “I am happy to report that we have a great, full team. Among our runners is UMass tennis player Greg Flemming. Four runners are from in state and the other 11 are from out of state […] things are going well. They just finished their 21 mile warmup run last weekend so from this point they’re tapering down to the end.”

The team trained together and they are training as part of the Marathon Coalition, a group of smaller, local charities. Gildea said “Teams like Dana Farber, the larger charities, they can afford to hire their own coach. What the smaller charities do is ban together and this group has a coach, and we all do training runs together.” She added, “I can’t say for sure that everyone has attended each run, but for the run on the 24th, eight of the 11 local runners showed up, and we’ve had least two or three at every training session.”

According to Gildea, “One of our runners has already raised $6,000. She’s Keri; she’s a rock star. Most people are right where they should be and have already finished, and a couple are kind of struggling.” She added, “You make the commitment to raise $4,000 and you get into it and you realize it’s not as easy as you think it is. I have all the faith in the world that they will make it, and if they don’t make it by the deadline I will happily extend them for another month.”

Gildea has a destination for the donations already picked out. She said, “Every year, we serve as many kids as we have funding for, and that’s always between 100 and 120. With these donations we are going to be able to serve at capacity, which is always our goal every year.” When asked about whether or not she is pleased with the results of her inaugural marathon program, Gildea said, “Absolutely! We serve a population of kids who don’t have a lot of other options. Their families are from the inner city and when it comes to summer camp, that’s really an extra added expense […] camp is free, and we do that because we’re UMass Boston and we’re here to serve the community. Because of that, there aren’t a lot of people in our group that we can ask for donations from […] they usually don’t have extra funding to give us donations.”

She added, “What the marathon team and the Boston Athletic Association have allowed us to do is tap into this network of people from not only across the state but across the nation (we even have one runner from Mexico). Because of this, we are getting donations now from across the nation, which is amazing.”

The team, according to Gildea, found Camp Shriver through listings on the BAA’s website as well as through word of mouth. This team will be taking on the grueling, 26.2-mile circuit to try to support what is possibly the most deserving charitable cause in all of UMass. They are winding down their training, and the student body should make an effort to turn out on Patriots Day and support the campus-based team.


NOTE: Camp Shriver is looking for counselors over the summer. If you’re interested, email [email protected] or [email protected]