Running for Hurricane Relief

Neal J Meyer

For many Harvard students, last Monday's hurricane translated to nothing more than a rainy day in pajamas and an extra day to work on that Stat pset. But for those who have family and friends in New York or New Jersey, Hurricane Sandy left destruction in its path—and two Harvard students are doing something about it.

When Meredith C. Baker '13 and Samantha J. Whitmore '13 found out the 2012 New York City Marathon had not been canceled yet on Wednesday, they decided they would not run out of respect to the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Instead, they decided to hold a marathon in Boston the following Sunday in order to raise both awareness and funds to support those affected by the storm.

"I didn't really feel right running it and Meredith didn't either," said Whitmore. "I think people sort of think of New York as a strong city and haven't really noticed that...devastation occurred."

The pair hopes to raise $2,620—100 dollars per mile—which will be donated directly to the American Red Cross to fund disaster relief efforts. The fundraising page of the event, which is open until midnight on Sunday—reported that they had already raised $2,712 as of midday Sunday.

According to the event's Facebook page, 168 people had RSVP'd to attend when the race was underway.

Both Baker and Whitmore have close ties to New York. Whitmore was born and raised in Manhattan and Baker has lived in New York on three separate occasions, where her maternal family also lives. Many of their friends and family in the affected area are experiencing tough times in the wake of the storm due to damage to their homes and schools.

This would have been Whitmore's first time running the race and would have marked Baker's third time participating.

"Our friendship was kind of founded on running," said Baker, who is also a Crimson editorial writer. "We wanted to kind of use [the] New York marathon as a symbolic finish line for senior year."

Baker and Whitmore hope this marathon will be "just the beginning of the Harvard effort." The duo is working with the UC to hold a benefit concert to raise funds for aid, as well.

"I think for some Harvard students, it was like, 'Hurricane Sandy, we get a day off of school,'" Baker said. "Some people haven't really taken time to understand the magnitude of the disaster."

This year's New York City Marathon was the subject of controversy in the city last week, when many said they thought it was inappropriate to hold a race in an area that was still suffering the effects of a natural disaster. Although the marathon was eventually canceled, some runners held an unofficial marathon in the city on Saturday.

Whitmore hopes the Boston race will be a "way to make a silver lining out of a really tragic event."

The duo is currently still running and due to finish any moment now!

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