Today, we put our spotlight on CMBG3’s John Gardella, who recently ran the Boston Marathon (virtual) for the Martin Richard Foundation’s Team MR8 – a charitable organization works to advance the values of inclusion, kindness, justice and peace. In this Spotlight feature, John shares why he ran for Team MR8 and what the organization’s goals are.
First of all, congratulations on finishing! How was it?
Thanks! A bit tough this year given that it was a virtual race, which meant no crowds cheering you on, none of the iconic mile markers and landmarks of the race, and no fellow runners to push you onward. But, I made it through and was happy to be done…it was a warm day when I ran!
So you ran for something called Team MR8. What is that?
Team MR8 was the marathon fundraising arm of the Martin Richard Foundation that was established in 2014. Martin Richard was the eight-year-old boy tragically killed during the Boston Marathon bombings of 2013. In the aftermath of that horror, his family established the Martin Richard Foundation to honor his memory and do something good for the community, country and world. While the organization raises money in various ways, Team MR8 was established for certain marathons (Boston, New York, Chicago) so that runners who were selected to run for Team MR8 could fundraise for the organization as they trained for the marathons.
What does the Martin Richard Foundation aim to achieve?
Well, as you said, the organization works to advance the values of inclusion, kindness, justice and peace. They do this by investing in community programs that broaden horizons for young people and encourage them to celebrate diversity and engage in positive civic action.
In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon tragedy, an iconic photo of young Martin circulated the internet showing him smiling and holding a handmade sign that said “No More Hurting People, Peace.” Just a few weeks later, he lost his life. His parents established the Foundation and pledged to advance the earnest commitment that young Martin showed in the photograph. They did so (and continue to do so) by advancing Martin’s values of sportsmanship, inclusion, kindness, and peace by investing in programs that encourage young people to celebrate diversity and engage as community leaders.
That’s an amazing cause. What led you to choose this particular organization to run for as opposed to others?
Good question! I actually was not a runner at all (I sort of hated it) until about 2015. But in the aftermath of the 2013 events, I felt a calling to try to help effectuate change and have some good come from all of the horror of the bombings. I honestly didn’t know what that looked like until one day in either late 2014 or early 2015 when I read an article about Team MR8 and their inaugural run in Martin’s memory in the 2014 marathon. Reading the story of how Martin’s parents reacted to the events not with anger, condemnation, and hatred, and instead immediately created something so incredibly positive, really struck me. I knew when reading the story that the Martin Richard Foundation was exactly what I was looking for on a personal level to help bring positive change. So, in the fall of 2015, I took a chance and applied to be on their 2016 Boston Marathon team. I was honored to be chosen by the Richard family and it really gave all of my training a real sense of purpose.
So what has your history been with Team MR8?
I didn’t run for them until 2016 in the Boston Marathon (I needed a year to really start building up my running so I didn’t get injured!). At first, I thought it would be a one time experience, but I knew pretty much right after crossing that finish line that year that I was hooked. I ended up running for Team MR8’s Boston Marathon teams in 2016, 2018, and 2020, their New York City Marathon team in 2016, and their Chicago Marathon team in 2018.
Will you do it all again?
Unfortunately, no. This was the last year for Team MR8. The family made the decision that with their oldest son graduating to college, that it was time to turn the page on that part of their lives. It was tough news for me personally to read, as I would have loved to keep running for them and fundraising, but I fully and completely understand their reasons for the decision that they made.
Do you think through the five marathons you did for Team MR8 that you left an impact?
Well I hope so, yes. I’m very proud of the fact that over those five races, I was able to fundraise just over $25,000 for the Foundation, which goes entirely to supporting the initiatives that I spoke about earlier. While Team MR8 is no longer an option, I do plan to continue to run other marathons and events, with the aim to fundraise for the Martin Richard Foundation so that they can keep doing the incredible work that they’ve been doing for over six years now.
For more information about John or his role with the Martin Richard Foundation, please visit us. CMBG3 is committed to supporting our community and giving back through out CMBG3 Cares program, an initiative that ensures that every month, our team members have a way to volunteer their time to our community or make a contribution in some way to those in need. If you would like more information about our community and charitable giving programs, please contact John Gardella (firstname.lastname@example.org).