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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

For Grad Student Matthew Conlon, running for the Krystle Campbell Marathon Team struck a personal note

Conlon+training+in+the+fall
Conlon training in the fall

Turning onto Boylston Street to complete the final few blocks of the Boston Marathon became an emotional task for anyone after the tragic events that struck Boston during the race last year.
Turning onto Boylston Start was especially emotional for University of Massachusetts Boston graduate student Matthew Conlon, who volunteered to join the 14-member Run for Krystle Marathon Team when he discovered that Nolan O’Brien, University of Massachusetts Boston’s Student Trustee was on the hunt for a campus representative. Each of the five UMass campuses contributed a member to the team, seeing as Campbell had attended UMass Boston for a time prior to her death at the Marathon last year.
“Nolan was looking for a runner, and I found out through a mutual friend of ours. This was back in November or so. I was absolutely thrilled to participate, especially given the circumstances and the cause,” Conlon recalled.
Initially, Colon wasn’t planning on running. After standing at the finish line last year, he wanted to give his services as a volunteer. Maybe he would run in 2015 — but that quickly changed once he heard about a chance to run for a special cause.
“I was at the finish line area last year when the bombs went off,” Conlon said. “I was thinking about possibly volunteering for the 2014 race already, but this event made me want to get back in the race for 2014 if I had the chance since it was such a special day for our city.”
“I was touched by the generosity that University Trustee Richard Campbell has displayed in getting this fundraising effort together. Mr. Campbell had no relation to Krystle, but he grew up in the same town (Medford) and attended the same university, so he felt a strong connection to the tragedy.”
Not only did Conlon see this as an opportunity to run for a cause, but his brief connection to Campbell was another reason that compelled him to participate in the marathon for the first time since 2012. He worked hard on his fundraising, you may have seen him selling t-shirts in the Campus Center for the Krystle Campbell Scholarship Fund. Conlon raised more than $9,500 for the fund and the team as a whole raised more than $70,000. 
Part of what made Conlon’s marathon success possible was the outpouring of support from the campus community. O’Brien and Conlon sold so many shirts that they had to place a new order, and the UMass Boston Trustees decided to match every donation that Conlon took in. 
Conlon decided to run on behalf of Krystle because their paths had crossed before.
“I had known Krystle in passing from work I had done on the Boston Harbor Islands, so I was deeply saddened when I learned that she was one of the victims. To be able to run this race in her memory was a very special moment for me, knowing that Krystle would be awed by the amount of support and dedication that many people have exhibited in both getting to the starting line in Hopkinton and getting the fundraising for the scholarship off the ground.”
In 2012, when Conlon ran his first marathon, he had to walk the last seven miles due to the blazing heat. This year, he finished just outside of his goal time with a 3:48:52.
When Conlon crossed the finish line, it was not only a personal achievement as his mom, who worked at the finish line, placed the medal over his head, but it was an accomplishment for those, like Campbell, who lost their lives last year. 
“There was the personal triumph of finishing the race, but also the sadness remaining from last year.  One can’t help but have flashbacks of the events of last year, but the love and the support of the crowd overpowered those trepidations.”