As a Boston Marathon Official Charity since 2013, Camp Shriver at UMass Boston hosts a team of runners for the marathon who train together and raise funds to support Camp Shriver’s inclusive recreational program that promotes the motor and social development of children with and without disabilities. Runners who join Team Camp Shriver are motivated to both run and raise funds on behalf of the program.
“The mission of Camp Shriver spoke to my heart,” said team member Molly Wade, who is running the Boston Marathon with Camp Shriver for the third time in 2017. “It was a natural fit for me to support a program that strives so diligently to afford children—all children—an opportunity to learn to live and play as equals. I believe in helping children be the very best people they can be.”
Team members commit to a long winter of training to prepare to run 26.2 miles for children with disabilities. Camp Shriver trains with the Marathon Coalition, a collection of education- and health-based charity running teams under the direction of Head Coach Rick Muhr. Runner Frank Flahive (Team Camp Shriver 2014-2016) said, “Training is where inspiration is cultivated, motivation is born, and relationships are forged. On early cold Saturday mornings, with sweat and pain, we come together as community to do good, to push each other, to be better.”
Camp Shriver’s first year with a team in the Boston Marathon was 2013, the year of the bombing. Only a few of the team’s runners finished that year; most returned to finally cross the finish line in 2014.
“I ran the year of the bombings and didn’t get to finish,” Flahive said. “The next year, between my personal running goal, raising money to help children, and the community rallying together, I was overflowing with inspiration and motivation.”
Collectively, Team Camp Shriver has raised more than $350,000 since 2013.
“Runners are great people,” said Team Manager Barbara Gildea. “Runners who are also running on behalf of a program like Camp Shriver, to support inclusion and children with disabilities, are the best of the best.”
More than 3,000 individuals have given to Camp Shriver after being asked by a friend or family member running for the team and the majority of the $350K (66%) was raised by gifts under $50.
“In my fundraising pursuits, I learned about people in my life who have endured struggles and challenges with children who have disabilities,” Wade said. “I remember a woman, whom I have known for nearly 5 years, donated $100 and, when doing so, shared how her daughter has autism and how appreciative she was that I was participating for a cause that helps families like hers. I never knew she had a child with a disability or, as Tim Shriver [Chairman of Special Olympics International] reminds us, with a ‘this-ability.’”
Members of Team Camp Shriver are more than runners; they soon become advocates for inclusion and children with disabilities.
“After spreading the word, I was surprised at how many supporters have a connection to autism and other disabilities,” said runner Stacey Rivora (Team Camp Shriver 2014-2016). “It seems like it is a condition that people may be afraid to talk about and spreading the word of Camp Shriver makes people more aware of autism and other disabilities and the benefits the camp creates. I am very proud to be a voice for the Camp to help people become more aware of the good work done by the program.”
Being a member of the Boston Marathon Official Charity Program has allowed Camp Shriver to serve at capacity during the summer.
“We couldn’t be more grateful for the support of the Boston Athletic Association and each and every one of our inspiring runners. Their support is essential to the operation of Camp Shriver and our ability to serve over 120 children each summer,” said Gary Siperstein, director of the Center for Social Development Education at UMass Boston, which hosts Camp Shriver.
“The B.A.A. and Camp Shriver are two mission-driven organizations that support programs encouraging a positive and active lifestyle for all,” said Tom Grilk, B.A.A. Chief Executive Officer. “For us, participation in sports is at the core of what we do and what we have offered for 130 years. We are pleased to have Camp Shriver participate in the Boston Marathon and we’re proud to support its continued good work.”
Team Camp Shriver is accepting applications for the 2017 Boston Marathon. A limited numbers of bibs are still available. For more information contact Barbara Gildea at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit www.umb.edu/csde/camp_shriver/boston_marathon.
About the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.)
Established in 1887, the Boston Athletic Association is a nonprofit organization with a mission of promoting a healthy lifestyle through sports, especially running. The B.A.A.’s Boston Marathon is the world's oldest annual marathon, and the organization manages other local events and supports comprehensive charity, youth, and year-round running programs, including high-performance athletes and running club. Since 1986, the principal sponsor of the Boston Marathon has been John Hancock Financial. The Boston Marathon is part of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, along with international marathons in Tokyo, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York City. More than 60,000 runners will participate in B.A.A. events in 2017. The 121st Boston Marathon will be held on Monday, April 17, 2017. For more information on the B.A.A., please visit www.baa.org.
About Camp Shriver at UMass Boston
For the past eleven years, Camp Shriver at the University of Massachusetts Boston has welcomed more than 1,000 children, half with and half without intellectual and developmental disabilities, ages 8-12, from low income families in the Boston area to a free inclusive summer sports camp. Camp Shriver serves an equal number of children with and without disabilities so that all children can play, learn, and interact in meaningful ways with their peers—no matter what their disability status. Camp Shriver’s mission is to use sports as a vehicle to bring children with and without disabilities together so that they have the opportunity to develop their motor and social skills, create positive peer relationships and make new friends. Learn more at www.umb.edu/csde/camp_shriver.