Grafton Little League Rallying to Support the Family of Boston Marathon Bombing Victim, and Little Leaguer®, Martin Richard
Patriots’ Day is a celebration in Boston. On this special day, the Red Sox play at Fenway. Schools are on holiday. And millions of people run and enjoy the Boston Marathon. That day of celebration was interrupted with tragedy last year, as two pressure cooker bombs exploded at the marathon’s finish line, injuring 264, and killing three.
Little League® lost one of its own that day. Martin Richard, 8, a player for Savin Hill Little League in Dorchester, Mass., was standing at the finish line with his father, mother, brother and sister when the second bomb went off. The bombing took Martin’s life. His brother, Henry, 11, escaped the ordeal without physical injury. His sister, Jane, 7, lost her left leg. The parents, Bill and Denise, also suffered injuries that has led to vision and hearing loss. You can read more about the Richard’s struggles in this article in The Boston Globe.
The bombing on that day led to a Boston Strong movement. Communities around Massachusetts, the United States and the world came to the aid of those injured and impacted. And the Little League community rallied around Savin Hill Little League and the Richard Family.
Grafton Little League, about an hour west of where Martin played his all-too-short Little League career, took the tragedy hard.
“We started talking, and we had players with family from that area, and some of our parents played in that same league growing up,” said Bill Keeler, Grafton Little League President. “Patriots’ Day is such an important event in Massachusetts, and you almost always know someone running in the marathon. The tragedy at last year’s marathon really hit home.”
With Grafton Little League’s Opening Day Ceremonies just two weeks after the bombing, the League’s Board decided to honor Savin Hill Little League and the Richard Family during their 2013 season. They made a flag to recognize Savin Hill Little League that flew at their field all season long. And, on that Opening Day, they passed the hat to raise money for the Richard Family. By the end of the day, they had $1,500.
The Grafton Little League and Savin Hill Little League Flags being hoisted during Grafton Little League's 2013 Opening Ceremonies.
While Grafton Little League stepped up to the plate, they wanted to do even more.
“After raising so much money in just one day last year, we thought, why don’t we really try to make a difference at this year’s marathon,” said Keeler.
Keeler and the other officials at Grafton Little League started reaching out to other leagues in Massachusetts, and they decided to set a goal for 2014: Raise $50,000 for the Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation and Keeler committed to running the 2014 Boston Marathon.
“I ran the marathon in 2004, and I always told myself that I would run it again 10 years later,” said Keeler. “When the bombing happened this year I knew I had to come through with that promise I made to myself. My youngest son is the same age as Martin, and I thought that running the marathon this year could help support the Richard family. My stomach still turns today every day I think of how it could have been any family from Grafton standing where the Richard’s were standing on marathon day.”
Keeler is starting his new fundraising efforts with the 16 Little League Districts in Massachusetts, and hoping that they can pass the hat at their opening ceremonies. In addition, if there are corporations interested in supporting the fundraiser, they are encouraged to make a donation. With thousands of Little League programs in the United States and around the world, Keeler believes Grafton Little League will exceed their $50,000 goal. He’s also suggesting that another way leagues can get involved is by making a $250 donation or ask friends and families also running in the 2014 Boston Marathon to fundraise as part of their league’s donation.
“We get involved with Little League as volunteers because we love our kids, we love the game of baseball and we love giving back to the communities we live in,” said Keeler. “The great lessons you learn on a field about sticking together and supporting our friends applies to so much more than sports. The bombings made me very angry and sympathetic at the same time to all the victims including Martin Richard. But I’m convinced something positive will come out of creation of the Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation and that all the monies raised will be put toward wonderful use in the future.”
If you would like to support the Martin Family, please make a donation to the Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation. Contributions can be sent to Grafton Little League, PO Box 471, North Grafton, MA 01536. For more information, contact Mr. Keeler at email@example.com.