Students at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith (UAFS) held a memorial run to raise funds for recent victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. The event, named #BostonStrongFortSmith, started at the Bell Tower on the UAFS campus Monday (April 29) night.
UAFS student Casandra Bright, of Alma, who is vice chair of the student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers at UAFS, said her group got together with Western Arkansas Runners to hold the three-mile walk/run.
“This run is not just for the people who will not be coming home,” said Bright. “It is for the runners who didn’t finish. It is for the runners who cannot run. It is to celebrate humanity and our undying effort to make the world better in the face of evil.”
One of the runners at the #BostonStrongFortSmith was Mary Jo Brinkman, a Fort Smith woman who also ran at the Boston Marathon. Brinkman was about half a mile away from the finish line when she was told by police that the bombs went off. Brinkman did not finish the Boston Marathon. She said crossing the finish line at the race in Fort Smith felt wonderful.
"I mean I ran really hard," Brinkman said Monday night, just moments after she crossed the finish line in Fort Smith. "I think every race I'm going to run from now on I'm going to run even harder. I have a commitment to just continue."
Those walking and running made the one-mile loop around the campus three times, one time for each victim who died when bombs exploded April 15 near the finish line of the annual Boston Marathon.
"It feels really good to have done it," said UAFS Student Body President Lisa Magallanes. "I know each lap was for each person that passed away so it felt really good just knowing to keep pushing through it and run through it all."
Bright said the event was aimed at demonstrating the courage and determination runners have.
"Runners are a stubborn breed but in the best kind of way," Bright said. "They know how to deal with adversity and trials and in dark times. I really feel like the reason that this light is so bright is because we've had this shadow . It just shows that we can get together and do something and we're not afraid to cross the finish line.
#BostonStrongFortSmith was a free event, but coordinators did collect donations. In total, close to $1,500 was raised. All of those onations were given to The One Fund Boston Inc., an organization formed by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino to raise money to help those families most affected by the bombings.
Close to 300 people showed up for the event.