In the first major fundraising run since the Boston Marathon, some 2,000 runners and walkers, including hundreds of actively serving military members, gathered at Fenway Park this morning to support clinical care, education, and research to help Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and families heal from the "invisible wounds" of war -- post traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury.
The Run-Walk to Home Base presented by New Balance raises funds for the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program. Over the past three years, Home Base has provided clinical care and support services to more than 500 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and families, and educated over 6,000 clinicians throughout the United States about post traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, and the challenges faced by military families. Home Base is also engaged in cutting edge research to improve treatment for PTSD and traumatic brain injury.
Now in its 4th year, the Run-Walk to Home Base presented by New Balance has raised more than $9 million. The 9K run and 2.6 mile walk starts and ends in Fenway Park with all participants having a timed finish at the Green Monster and a "photo finish" at home plate, where they are greeted by military and Red Sox and Massachusetts General Hospital leaders. As part of the opening ceremonies, a dozen members of the MA National Guard were recognized for their efforts as first responders at the scene of the Boston Marathon bombing on Patriots Day.
"This year's run was even more meaningful in the wake of last month's Boston Marathon and the senseless violence that followed," said Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner. "Our service men and women sacrifice so much so we can be safe at home. Sadly, the traumas they experience are now the same ones affecting many of those who were injured during the Marathon bombings. It only heightens the urgency for the ground-breaking research that brilliant physicians and researchers are working on right now at Mass General."
"Fewer than 1% of Americans serve in the military, but in the wake of the terrible Patriots Day bombing, all Bostonians have a better understanding the dangers and challenges our Iraq and Afghanistan veterans face every day on the battlefield as well as the anxiety our military families feel when a loved one is in harm's way. The need to heal these "invisible wounds" of war, which affect one- in- three veterans, is more urgent than ever," said Peter L. Slavin, MD.
"As an official footwear and apparel producer for the United States Military and a Boston based company we are extremely proud to return for a 4th year as the presenting sponsor of the Run-Walk to Home Base," says Rob DeMartini, President and CEO of New Balance. "Following the tragic events at the Boston Marathon, the tremendous acts of heroism and bravery that occurred by first responders makes us even more proud to stand here today, Boston Strong. As the Run to Home Base motto states, 'They served us. Now we can serve them.'"
Runners and walkers were greeted at the finish line by: General John F. Kelly, Commander, U.S. Southern Command; US Representative Joseph Kennedy; Major General Scott Rice, MA National Guard; Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner; Massachusetts General Hospital President Peter Slavin, MD; New Balance President and CEO Rob DeMartini; and additional military leadership from throughout New England.
Throughout the morning, participants and spectators enjoyed a number of free family activities, including a Military Appreciation Area presented by BAE Systems, where fans prepared care packages for service members; a Family Fun Zone presented by Our Family for Families First Foundation and The Corvias Group; a Fan Experience Zone presented by John Hancock offering photos with Red Sox Legends, the 2004 and 2007 World Series trophies, and Wally the Green Monster; self-guided tours; and veteran service exhibits.