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Vermonters Strive to Help Victims of Marathon Bombings

As officials pore over the crime scene at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, many Vermonters who were there are still coming to grips with what happened. And some of them are taking action.

Ryan Polly, who ran in the race yesterday, is organizing a benefit run this weekend. Polly was less than a mile from completing his first marathon when the bombs went off.

Polly says he thinks he heard the two explosions, but, like other runners, he was unaware of the commotion ahead until officials began preventing the runners from moving towards the finish line.

“The cops were out and they said ‘the marathon is over! The marathon is over!’” Polly says. “And so we all kind of went to the side of the road. And we were still not sure what was going on but knowing that clearly something had happened. But we didn’t know yet that it was an explosion.”

Polly’s partner and daughter were supposed to meet him at the finish line and he began to panic when he realized he wouldn’t be allowed to proceed towards the finish area. After several failed attempts to reach them on cell phones he borrowed from other runners and spectators, Polly was eventually able to ascertain that his family was safe. Hours later he met them at their hotel room.

Polly and his family returned safe and sound to Vermont. But his desire to do something has resulted in a benefit run at the Burlington Waterfront this Saturday with proceeds going to the Massachusetts General Hospital Emergency Fund.

The fundraiser morphed from what had been a planned celebratory post-marathon run. Polly realized he couldn’t possibly celebrate, but he still wanted to run in solidarity.

“I basically said ‘hey, I’m going to be out at 4 o’clock running in memory of, in support of those people impacted. Come join me.’

Polly says he got a positive reaction from friends. He contacted the Massachusetts General Hospital, “because they’ve taken a lot of the victims and they have an emergency fund so they’re setting up a website now where we can donate directly to their fund.”

The run is planned for Saturday, April 20 at 4:00 p.m., beginning by the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center.  Polly says people are welcome to run—or walk—any distance.

Other Vermonters continue to find ways to help the effort. Some are giving blood while others have offered monetary donations of their own.

Meanwhile, Vermont City Marathon officials met with the Burlington Police Department Tuesday morning and issued a statement saying that the May event will continue and that race officials will consider adjustments to their plan. According to the official statement, “this work will be dynamic based on information we learn from Boston, and will take some time to complete.”

Jane Lindholm is the host, executive producer and creator of But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids. In addition to her work on our international kids show, she produces special projects for Vermont Public. Until March 2021, she was host and editor of the award-winning Vermont Public program Vermont Edition.
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