Bombing Survivors, Injured Service Members Forge Marathon Friendships

A pre-Boston Marathon dinner gave runners from two groups a chance to carbo-load and forge new friendships.

Team 4.15, made up of Boston bombing survivors, and Team Semper Fi, which supports injured service members, are joining forces marathon Monday. The groups, which both believe athletics can help in the healing process, hope running together will send a message their todays and tomorrows are brighter than their yesterdays.

"To be able to run beside the 4.15 group and say, 'Hey, I'm here for you, but you're also here for me,' that lets me know how great of a nation we live in," said Brian McPherson of the Semper Fi Fund.

"The support from so many places was just amazing," said Lee Ann Yanni, a Team 4.15 cofounder, remembering the kindness extended to bombing survivors after the attacks three years ago. "From Florida to Washington, around the globe, people who didn't have any idea who we are were so willing to support us in any way possible."

Tom Grilk, the executive director of the Boston Athletic Association, stopped by the dinner to chat with runners, and told necn he draws inspiration from the marathoners' drive to accomplish athletic feats.

"That attack was not an attack on the Marathon, it was an attack on Boston," Grilk recalled. "And these people are displaying the same resilience we saw in so many places three years ago."

Former Marathon Sports employee Rusty Tolliver said he aims to take the legacy of "Boston Strong" far and wide.

Starting this week, in what he's calling the One World Strong Trek, Tolliver has pledged to run across much of the country, for at least 100 days. He said he expects to run marathon distances or greater each day, often joined by Team 4.15 members on his journey, to tell the story of how cities and towns everywhere can come together after adversity.

"It's about community," Tolliver told necn. "A lot of bad stuff happens, but if we keep on keeping on, that's the message that I hope gets told."

"There's a lot more good in the world than there is evil," added Team 4.15 cofounder Dave Fortier, who said he will be joining Tolliver at some of his stops. "And we want to share a lot of the good that's come from Boston with the rest of the country, and rest of the world if possible."

The carbo-loading and community-building dinner Sunday night was hosted by Davio's. The restaurant said it hopes the event will grow annually.

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