River Hawks Return to the Marathon

Runners, Supporters and Injured Stay the Course

Registrar Kerry Donohoe and running partner Steve Poirier ran the 2014 Boston Marathon after the tragic events of 2013 stopped their last attempt.

Registrar Kerry Donohoe and running partner Steve Poirier ran the 2014 Boston Marathon after the tragic events of 2013 stopped their last attempt.

04/22/2014
By Julia Gavin and Sheila Eppolito

Crowds cheered as Krista Perry Patronick ‘09 crossed the Boston Marathon finish line last year for the first time, exactly what a runner needs to hear after 26.2 miles. But the finish was bittersweet, a delayed accomplishment after the bombings stopped her official race several days earlier. Her “small army” of supporters cheered just the same, many supporting a fellow River Hawk.

“I ran with two other alums and when I got to Boylston Street, there were so many people who were there for us, people I didn't even know. I saw a lot of people who'd heard about me finishing thanks to the University spreading the word,” says Patronick, an avid River Hawk  hockey fan. “I met a man and his son in River Hawks jerseys and thanked them for coming. That really meant a lot to me.”

Patronick was one of the 26,839 runners on the course that day, and she returned with more fellow athletes in 2014, several of whom are also part of the University community.

“It wasn’t an easy run by any means, but seeing so many familiar faces along the course really helped,” says Patronick, who finished the race for the second time surrounded by friends and family.

Former track athlete Rex Radloff ’10 represented the University on a UMass system-wide team running in support of the Krystle Campbell Scholarship Fund, which will benefit students attending any of the five campuses. The UMass Lowell Boston Marathon Scholarship, established soon after the attacks, also benefits those affected. A Boston Strong T-shirt designed by Kevin Zwirble ’04 has  raised more than $3,200 for The One Fund, benefiting survivors.

Steve O’Brien ’10 ran for his family members JP and Paul Norden who were both critically injured in the blasts. After just a few weeks of training, he completed the course with the Nordens in mind.

“While running Boston this year was no doubt special, this run felt especially important since I was representing JP and Paul,” says O’Brien, who is helping to raise funds for the brothers’ medical bills. “I couldn’t be happier to have had this opportunity.”

O’Brien and Radloff’s former teammate Ruben Sança ’10 also ran the marathon for the first time. He’s trying to qualify for the 2016 Olympics and his 21st place finish at 2:19:05 gives him a good shot of succeeding. Training for the race has been a major part of his life in recent months.

“It takes a tremendous amount of time to train for a marathon, especially if you work full time and are trying for an Olympic-qualifying time,” says Sança who represented Cape Verde in the 2012 games. “It’s like having a part-time job, but I love the process and enjoyed every moment of it.”

Registrar Kerry Donohoe ran her third Boston Marathon in support of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Donohoe has raised nearly $45,000 for the organization in memory of the nephew of her friend Matt Drouin ’95. She also runs for Matty Dubuc, son of Sandy Dubuc, a longtime University employee.

Last year, Donohoe’s running partner wasn’t feeling well. What at the time seemed unfortunate may have kept them out of harm’s way. They were stopped a few miles from the finish, much farther from the attacks than they would have been if running in top form.

“I needed to finish the 26.2 miles not because I want a medal, but because I believe that goodness always wins over evil and this is how we do it,” says Donohoe. “Running always reminds me and that we are stronger than we think we are.”

Not all University community members were fortunate enough to be far away from the bombs. Roseanne Sdoia ’91 and her friends were in a bar on Boylston Street, awaiting the text that told them their friend was nearing the finish line. When the phone beeped, they left the bar and headed outside to watch. The first bomb went off, and a man yelled to get in the street. But the barricades prevented that, so Roseann ran to her right, directly into the second bomb.

A college student used his belt to tourniquet her leg and she was whisked to Mass General Hospital.

When she woke up, one leg was amputated, the other badly burned and her eardrums were blown.  A year later, Sdoia is strong, working hard to live her life in the full way she insists. She has had many operations, and multiple prosthetic legs. 

Her rehab continues at Spaulding, and she shows no signs of giving up.

“It’s not in my blood to be mad,” she says.

To read Sdoia’s full story, see the spring 2014 issue of the UMass Lowell Magazine for Alumni and Friends