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When Faye Britt crossed the finish line at the Boston Marathon on April 15 of this year, she completed her 49th marathon, her fifth in Boston. About 20 minutes later, after she’d arrived safely at her hotel, everything changed.
Faye heard what sounded like a bus backfiring—but it was actually a bomb. A second bomb would detonate seconds later, and together the two bombs would kill three people and injure more than 260. “The scene that followed reminded me of what I witnessed on TV on Sept. 11 on a smaller scale. There was utter panic because no one knew what was happening; the threat of more bombs being found didn’t help,” Faye says. She was grateful to be safe, but she knew she needed to respond in some way.
“Getting back to normal has been difficult,” says Faye, who is the assistant principal at Haller Middle School in Arlington, Wash., and a Doctor of Education (EdD) student at Walden. By the end of the following week, “I realized how hard it had hit me. I needed to do something positive,” she explains.
After hearing about the “Run for Boston” events scheduled across the country, Faye was inspired to organize a one-mile run or walk for Haller’s students during lunch on the following Monday, the one-week anniversary. “Despite only publicizing it the Friday before, I managed to get almost every one of my students to participate; I have such a great group of kids, staff, and parents,” she says.
She pledged to donate $1 for each child who finished the mile to The One Fund Boston. The support she received was immediate and overwhelming—she ended up donating about $600. “My principal got behind the idea, followed by fellow staff. My idea turned into something much bigger than I expected,” Faye explains. “The purpose behind my ‘Run for Boston’ campaign wasn’t to raise money, but to show unity with the running community; many teachers and several parents of my students also donated to the fund,” she explains. Her actions inspired a principal in a nearby district to follow her lead, raising about $600.
“The kids were amazing and got into the spirit of the day. It was a great show of support for the marathon and the victims,” she says. “Our goal was to show that we will keep running; terrorism will not control what we do.”
To follow up this success, Faye plans to run the Tacoma City Marathon in May, one of many marathons and ultra-marathons she will run over the next year before competing in her seventh Ironman Triathlon in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, in June 2014.
The response she received from the Walden community was also overwhelming. “My professor, Dr. Weintraub, immediately checked in with me, knowing I was running Boston. His level of support and understanding exceeded anything I would have expected. The emails, texts, and Facebook messages from several of my fellow students, as well as my school’s staff, parents, students, and friends, were overwhelming. I don’t recall a time when I’ve felt like I had a larger support group than now.”
“When I think of social change, I think globally,” she continues. “Finding a way for my students, who are 3,000 miles away from the bombings, to show their support demonstrated how social change happens at the micro level. The kids knew I was there and, consequently, were more in tune with the news. This was a great opportunity for me to provide the main avenue to make a difference and be a part of something bigger.”