Cambridge’s Marathoners Tell Us Why They’re Running

team mr8Alex Praschma is running to support Team MR8, which honors the memory of eight-year-old Marathon bombing victim Martin Richard "by investing in education, athletics and community."

Many Boston Marathon runners tackle an entirely different kind of endurance challenge as they train for the annual race: raising money—often to the tune of $10,000 or more—for charity.

The Boston Marathon Official Charity Program debuted in 1989 and has grown ever since; last year, nonprofit runners raised more than $30 million.

We caught up with some of the Cambridge-based marathoners who are racing for a cause next month to find out what will keep them kicking for the whole 26.2-mile route.

Team MR8 – Alex’s Road to Boston

Click Here to Donate and Support Team MR8 and Alex

Name: Alex Praschma
Years Running the Marathon: First Boston Marathon—third marathon in the past year
Fundraising Goal: $7,500
Charity: Team MR8
Why I’m Running: I’m graduating from Suffolk Law in May … and one of my classmates, around this time last year, had convinced me to run a marathon with him. I had never run a 5K or anything. I’d always been an athlete, but never a strict runner. I learned a ton about the organization through him and learned what it meant to run Boston for a charity—more specifically, for team MR8 and what they represent.

Through all the long runs that we did, he was telling me about his fundraising experience and what he learned about himself through the support systems he gained through fundraising—the eye-opening experience of what your network is like, really getting that feeling of support that you never really understand or realize until you do something like this. In terms of donating, it’s really incredible to see how much people are willing to give.

(Video by Harry Ehrlich and Taylor Pelletier.)

christopher walker

Name: Christopher Walker
Years Running the Marathon: First year
Fundraising Goal: $15,000
Charity: The Boston Debate League
Why I’m Running: I believe in generational change. By that, I mean investing in the youth for better outcomes in the future. The Boston Debate League is a major support system for students to learn about important world issues, both domestic and abroad. Students also learn how to be better speakers, researchers, and ready themselves to be responsible college students and adults.

(Stop by Juliet in Union Square on April 11 for a pop-up fundraiser to benefit Christopher’s marathon efforts!)

targetcancer foundation

Name: Daniel Rothenberg
Years Running the Marathon: One—sixth marathon overall
Fundraising Goal: $10,000
Charity: TargetCancer Foundation
Why I’m Running: I’m a PhD student in Biological Engineering at MIT working in the Koch Institute of Integrative Cancer Research, so I’ve seen firsthand how money raised through organizations like TargetCancer drives research towards cancer treatments. One of my aunts is currently battling breast and gastric cancer, and another of my aunts passed away almost exactly four years ago from the date of this year’s Boston Marathon, so having the opportunity to run for an organization like TargetCancer is especially meaningful. I’m aiming to finish in under four hours, which would be a personal best.

boston marathon

Name: Kat Dunford
Years Running the Marathon: First Boston!
Fundraising Goal: $10,000
Charity: Fisher House Boston
Why I’m Running: I’ve been running since high school cross country, but it has taken on a whole new meaning for me. Since 2011, I’ve been running races with a team of friends and family in memory of a close family friend, 1st Lt. Robert Kelly. Robert was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines and was deployed to Sangin, Afghanistan when he was killed in action on November 9, 2010. Every race I’ve run, I’m amazed by the number of people I get the share the Team Kelly story with and the incredible stories people share with me.

As I take on my fourth marathon, I’m so honored to be able to share the story of Fisher House. The work they do to support military families is incredible. Fisher House provides the families housing free of charge while they receive care at medical centers in Boston. Instead of worrying about hotel bills, families can focus on healing in a supportive environment. Knowing that his memory lives on in the dedicated Fisher House healing garden, I’m so grateful for the chance to give back to Fisher House in Robert’s memory and in thanks for the incredible work they do to support military and veteran families. If you’re interested in supporting the work of Fisher House and helping us meet our goal, you can donate here.

tedy's team

Name: Katie Curran
Years Running the Marathon: This is my first marathon! I’m nervous and excited and hope this is just the first of many Boston Marathons for me.
Fundraising Goal: $5,400
Charity: Tedy’s Team
Why I’m Running: I’m running to help Tedy Bruschi and the American Stroke Association raise funds and awareness for stroke as a member of Tedy’s Team. In the Spring of 2010, my mom suffered a serious Transient Ischemic Attack while she and my dad were enjoying their first year of retirement together (after raising 5 kids and putting us all through college!). After a few months in rehab she had a second stroke, which was much more debilitating and left her with permanent mental and physical limitations. My dad, who is now 76 years old, is her full-time care-taker and bears the brunt of the burden by himself. I’m running not only to raise awareness and money, but in support of my parents, who live every day affected by stroke.

boston marathon

Name: Anna Kochalko
Years Running the Marathon: This is my first marathon ever!
Fundraising Goal: $10,600
Charity: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Why I’m Running: This race is meaningful to me in so many ways. First, I’m running with the Dana-Farber Institute in honor of my grandma and aunt who lost their battles with cancer at the end of 2015. Both of these woman were very special, and I hope to make them proud when I cross that finish line! Being from California, Boston has become my home for the last seven years, and I’m so excited to participate in the race that is so much a part of the heart and soul of this city.