George Roche, who ran in the Boston Marathon and crossed the finish line 20 minutes before the bombing, sings the Pledge of Allegiance with other runners who participated in the nationwide solidarity run at Woodlands Park in Perrysburg.
During the second lap of a 2.6-mile run and walk to show solidarity for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, lyrics erupted from the speakers near the starting line: “With a little love, and some tenderness, we'll walk upon the water, we'll rise above this mess, with a little peace, and some harmony....”
The 1994 song, “Hold My Hand,” by Hootie and the Blowfish, was fitting for the charity event, in which hundreds of runners and walkers flooded Perrysburg's Woodlands Park on Monday night.
Race organizers said the event raised an estimated $15,000 to $20,000 for One Fund Boston Inc., which was formed by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino, to assist those affected by the bombings.
Coordinated by Dave's Running stores, the event was suggested to the business by the community on April 15, the day of the bombings, employee Alan Morrison said. Dave's has stores in Sylvania, Perrysburg, Delta, and Findlay.
“Residents started contacting us literally the day of the tragedy,” he said. “All we did was respond to the running community.”
Dustin Schope, Findlay store manager, said the idea was pulled together quickly.
“As soon as it happened, we knew we needed to do something,” he said.
Money was raised through T-shirt sales, which were white with black lettering and read “4-15-13 Boston, United to Remember” on them. The shirts sold for $20 apiece.
“We have quite a few people kicking in $50 or $100,” Mr. Morrison said.
Annette Tietje of Deshler, Ohio, and her daughter, Tara Tieje, 16, traveled about an hour to get to the race.
“I just want to support all the people who got hurt,” the older woman said. Ms. Tietje said she has friends who knew people who ran in this year’s Boston Marathon.
George Roche, a local runner who also ran in the marathon this year, led a prayer before the race, and instructed participants to observe a moment of silence to recognize the victims.
He finished the marathon on April 15 in 3 hours, 44 minutes and was 500 yards away when the first of two explosions hit.
“I actually crossed the finish line about 10 minutes before the first explosion," Mr. Roche said. “They had just given me my medal.”
Initially, he didn't know what the origin of the loud noise was.
“It was so powerful. First I thought it was like a celebratory cannon. You just ran 26 miles, so you're a little delirious.”
But then he said he saw smoke and started to hear screaming.
“At that point, I just turned right around and headed to the hotel I was staying at,” he said. Mr. Roche said he thought security at the marathon seemed tough, even before the race began.
“It was one of those situations where I don't think they could have done any better from a security standpoint,” he said, as he recalled taking a bus to a staging area called “Athletes' Village,” and seeing snipers on rooftops and bomb-sniffing dogs.
By running through the park on this Monday night, he was able to show more support for the city he recently visited.
It was “just to show the city of Boston that they have support, even as far away as Toledo,” Mr. Roche said. “Obviously to be able to contribute to the One Boston Fund.”
Monday's run was dog-friendly, with a few pets being carried around the park course by their owners.
Danielle Boger, who has been running for about eight years, walked with her dog, Chief, a boxer.
“I'm here to run and donate and meet new runners,” she said, displaying a Dave's Running sweatshirt.
James Mason, owner of Dave's Running, said 800 shirts were printed for the event and the number of visitors exceeded that. He plans to have more shirts printed and have them available at the stores this week.
Mr. Mason’s father, the running business’s namesake, ran the Boston Marathon multiple times.
His son said solidarity races for One Fund Boston Inc. have taken the country by storm since the bombings.
“It's been pretty much a widespread thing across the United States,” Mr. Mason said.
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