LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The old saying "in the wrong place at the wrong time" became a tragic reality last year for 8-year-old Martin Richard, who, along with his family, was happily cheering on the runners at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon when a series of two terrorist bombs blew up and killed Martin instantly.
His younger sister, Jane, survived but lost her left leg, his mother lost an eye, and his father suffered hear
ing loss and severe shrapnel lacerations.
So it seems fitting that Lakewood Ranch resident Ed Kelly, who grew up near Boston and still has most of his family there, has chosen to honor the memory of Martin Richard, whose motto, lovingly penned for a class project, was, "No more hurting people. Peace."
Kelly, who lives in Riverwalk, was one of 100 people chosen from several hundred applicants who will be part of Team MR8, a national team of runners who will participate in the 2014 Boston Marathon next month. Through Team MR8, Kelly has committed to raising $7,500 to support the Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation, a nonprofit established in Martin's memory.
Kelly's nephew, Liam, coincidentally attended the same Massachusetts school as Martin and his sister, so the marathon has added significance. Kelly says he is running and raising money for Martin to show that Americans will not cower or hide behind a door out of fear of terrorists or enemies with ideological differences. Instead, Kelly says, like the 9/11 attacks, the Boston Marathon bombing has motivated him to show we will not be defeated.
"I'm just one small element of a bigger movement that occurs after national tragedies. We can't allow a tragedy to take place without clearly demonstrating to people who did it or are contemplating such a thing that you can defeat us," said Kelly.
Boston's comeback celebration
He believes the upcoming Boston Marathon -- the world's oldest annual marathon, held every third Monday in April since 1897 on what Boston has named Patriots' Day -- will be Boston's comeback celebration.
The Martin family chose a team of very deserving people, according to their foundation spokesman, Larry Marchese. Besides having Massachusetts roots, Kelly really connected to them in a special way, Marchese said by telephone Thursday.
"It was very clear that Ed was really moved by what happened to the Richard family and their son, Martin. His application and the way he described his desire to be a part of the team were very sincere."
Since the marathon is less than a month away, Kelly is spending a great deal of time planning and hosting fundraisers, raising money at spring training games with the Tampa Bay Rays and the Pittsburgh Pirates, and going door-to-door seeking in-kind donations from merchants for raffle and auction prizes to give away at his Team MR8 fundraisers.
He has scheduled a bowling charity event April 6 at the Bowland Port Charlotte, a celebrity bartending fundraiser April 16 at the Polo Grill and Bar in Lakewood Ranch, and a bean bag-cornhole toss money raiser May 1 in the Beer Garden of the Motorworks Brewing in downtown Bradenton.
If that isn't enough, Kelly is busy training at the Lakewood Ranch YMCA, engaged in a combination of running to increase his endurance for the 26.2-mile marathon, cross training, yoga and swimming.
He'll be running alongside his brother, Steve, a retired member of the Massachusetts State Police, who was stopped less than a mile from the finish line when the bombs went off. His nephew, Liam, had been waiting in the crowd with his family, and Kelly says the fear of what happened that day is still very much a part of the little boy.
"It's important that we move forward with the marathon this year to give a sense of normalcy to the children," Kelly said. "It's a good visible demonstration, especially for kids in the Boston area who have fears and apprehensions that they see everything's OK."
Those who would like to donate to Kelly's cause can visit his website, firstgiving.com/fundraiser/EdKelly.
Kathryn Moschella, Lakewood Ranch reporter, can be reached at 941-745-1010. Follow her on Twitter @MoschellaHerald.