Definition of Bravery

The 2015 Boston Marathon is only five days away. And all I can think about is what carbs I should be eating when, and how it’s ok to run only three miles today, I’m tapering. But in the middle of all of this performance-focused thinking it was good to be reminded why I am running 26.2 miles…for children who have been abused here in Boston.

Last week I attended the Children’s Advocacy Center’s “Bravery Ceremony.” It was a moving reminder of what all this training and fundraising is going towards. During this ceremony victims of abuse were presented with awards from CAC and their “teams,” the District Attorneys and Victim Advocates who helped them get through the legal portion of their journey to recovery.

There was also a exhibit of photographs of victim’s eyes and their advice to other kids on how to get through terrible times. The exhibit was called “Now You See Me, A Celebration of Courageous Kids.” And courageous they are. Coming forward is incredibly difficult. There’s the social stigma attached to sexual abuse, and in many cases these children were threatened to ensure their silence, and/or were abused by members of their family, and coming forward means tearing a family apart.

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The firsthand accounts were at times hard to read, but important to read. Josh was abused by a family member starting when he was 13. He wrote:

“Being in front of a jury was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. But I just kept thinking ‘Tell the truth, you know what happened to you. Now it’s your chance to tell everyone else.’”

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Bessie was abused by her uncle started at age five. She wrote:

“Knowing that I endured something so painful allows me to be a stronger person. As a child you don’t have control over ugly things that might happen to you, but as you get older, you will always have the last say. You have survived the battle and you have the opportunity to live and take the good from life.”

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The emotional connection between the victims, their teams, CAC staff, and the detectives who investigated their cases was evident and touching.

I became aware of CAC and all the good work they do through two friends (Laura Montgomery an Assistant DA and Kate Lagana, a Victim Advocate), and now I was able to see them celebrating the bravery of the victim’s they helped get justice. It’s clear that through the judicial process, the victims and their teams get very close; lawyers become cheerleaders, friends…vital support through the most difficult of times. There was such emotion in Laura’s voice as she commended one of her victims, Jennifer, that I had goosebumps on my arms, and tears welling in my eyes. Some of the victims whose bravery was being celebrated  had waited as long as six years to finally get justice.

My dear friend Laura, in green, with one of her victims, Jennifer

My dear friend Laura, in green, with one of her victims, Jennifer

During the ceremony, Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley spoke, calling these victims who suffered abuse during childhood, “The bravest people in Boston.” He thanked them and said that by coming forward other victims will know that they too can come forward. He commended the DAs, Victim Advocates, detectives and staff of CAC, as doing “some of the most important work in law enforcement in the Commonwealth.”

This is my last plea for donations before the marathon, I swear. Every dollar I help to raise will help CAC fund a full time position for a mental health professional for the child victims of sexual abuse. If you are feeling generous, even if it is only a few dollars, please donate today.

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To sweeten the deal, the good people at Exhale Spa were kind enough to donate a five pack of Mind Body classes for me to use in my fundraising efforts. You can enter for a chance to win this class pack (retail value: $125), if you 1) like Children’s Advocacy Center on Facebook, and 2) leave a comment below about why you think it’s important to shine a light on the bravery of these young victims.

Thank you for all the support!

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A Different Sort of Resolution: The Boston Marathon

Happy New Year friends!

How many of you made a resolution when the clock struck midnight? According to the US Government (I must have missed this questions on the last census) the top New Years resolutions are to lose weight, volunteer more and to quit smoking. While all of these are very worthy goals…and 40% of us do indeed make these sorts of resolutions (only 8% of us keep them)…I’m making a different sort of resolution for 2015, or at least first four and a half months of it: I’m running the 2015 Boston Marathon.

This will not be my first marathon, but it will still be a serious challenge (duh!). I love to run, so motivation will not be my big obstacle. While I was training for my previous marathon (or as my mother describes it “practicing” for the marathon…although a dress rehearsal is not a bad idea) I was working in TV and I didn’t have to be at work until 2:00 in the afternoon. I had all morning to diligently train (arguably I over-trained judging by the IT band injury I sustained) in the best season (August through November). This time around I work normal people hours, so training will have to be squeezed into those dark hours before the sun comes up over frosty New England. Plus I absolutely hate treadmills, so if you follow me on Instagram (and I hope you do) I’m warning you now you’re in for dozens of frozen Charles River sunrise shots between now and April 20th.

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Another challenge, although I really do see it as an honor, is the fact that as I train I will also be raising money for a worthy cause. The Children’s Advocacy Center of Suffolk County may just be one of the most important Boston organizations you have never heard of.

I’ll start at the beginning: a very good friend of mine is an assistant District Attorney in Boston. She prosecutes individuals who have been accused of sexually abusing children. I frequently think about her when I’m having a bad day at work. I get stressed about the logistics of an event, or the phrasing of a press release. She is putting sickos behind bars. She is keeping children safe. That’ll certainly give you some perspective on your “work emergency.”

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I learned about The Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) through her. When a child is abused and comes forward, although heartbreakingly, many do not come forward, there are multiple parties and moving pieces involved in prosecuting such a case (police, prosecutors, doctors, etc.).  A coordinated response from experts in their respective fields is required to reduce stress on the victim throughout the investigation and intervention process. CAC believes that helping abused children and their families requires an approach that addresses the physical, emotional and legal dimensions of abuse. It is terrible that so many children are the victims of this god-awful kind of abuse, and they deserve to be protected, to get justice, to be safe and to heal. This is a cause I can get behind that…and I am…for 26.2 miles. Will you join me?

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I’m going to be bringing you all along for both facets of my marathon challenge. I will be updating you on how my training is going, with words and images. I will also be telling the story of The Children’s Advocacy Center through the dedicated folks who help these victims, from DAs, to Victims Advocates, maybe even a police officer if I’m lucky. It won’t be my typical adventure, but I hope by spending time with these dedicated professionals and shining a light on all the hard work they do every day, it will help us all gain a some much-needed perspective and will inspire us all to help those in need, whomever they may be.

If you are feeling generous and would like to contribute something (doesn’t have to be a lot) to my marathon effort to help CAC you can do so by clicking here. Thank you in advance!

Let the training begin!