Why I Run

by Jeannie Hannigan

Jeannie Hannigan is a former Jumpstart Corps member and second year runner on the Jumpstart Boston Marathon team.

When you train for the Boston Marathon you get a lot of people asking “why?” Why put yourself through five months of grueling workouts? Why spend your Friday nights in bed by 9pm, and your Saturday mornings up at the crack of dawn to run 10, 15, or even 21 miles? Why put yourself through months of physical and mental stress, all for the so-called reward of running 26.2 miles? For me, that answer is easy.

I began serving with Jumpstart when I was a freshman at Emerson College in Boston. Now, six years later, I’m running the Boston Marathon for Jumpstart for the second year in a row. Why? Because I worked with a four-year old who initially had trouble writing the first letter of her name, but then grew eager to learn how to write her name, her friends’ names, and even my name.

Because I met a child who had difficulty sitting still and paying attention in class. I spent some time with him one-on-one and by the end of the school year he was the most active participant in Circle Time and thoroughly enjoyed reading Make Way For Ducklings.

Because I met families who were ecstatic to see their children so excited about learning, and incredibly grateful when they received a library’s worth of books that they could read with their children at home.

Because my former Jumpstart teammates are now some of my closest friends, and I’ve had the delight of watching them go on to do great things with their lives post-Jumpstart.

Because the professional skills I gained while working as an intern on Jumpstart’s Northeast Development team provided me with the tools I needed to succeed after college.

The Jumpstart program changes every life it touches. It’s as simple as that. Whether you’re a preschooler in the program, a family with a child in a Jumpstart classroom, or a volunteer like me, you can’t help but grow and change for the better. It’s not just a program that teaches children how to read and write, it’s also an experience that empowers children, families, college students, and community volunteers alike. And this empowerment, this love for learning and awareness of the enormous impact that a program like Jumpstart can make on society is why I run.

When I know that for every $20 I raise, a child who may lack age appropriate books at home will receive a take-home library, that $500 will equip a team like mine at Emerson College with a year’s worth of curriculum supplies, and that $2,500 will support a preschool like the one I worked at in Dorchester, MA for an entire school year -it’s not even a question in my mind. If doing something as crazy as running 26.2 miles will encourage my friends, family, acquaintances, and even kind strangers to contribute to a cause that makes such a difference in the world, then you’d better believe I’ll do it!

So as I sit here, less than a week away from the Boston Marathon and reflecting on my Jumpstart story, I’ll even go out on a limb and say running is the easy part.

Interested in supporting Jumpstart’s 2014 Boston Marathon team? Click here.

Together, we can help all children build the key language and literacy skills they need to take on the world.

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