By: Lauren Gainor & Karina Hornbaker
Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to be a marathon runner in the Boston Marathon or what is going through a marathon runners mind as they get closer to that finish line? You ask yourself, why did they do this? How did they do this? What’s their motivation? Well, let us take you into the mind of 49 year old Dawn Snow who will be running the 2016 Boston Marathon® on April 18th, in hopes to fundraise her $7,500 goal for Special Olympics Massachusetts.
Dawn, from Marshfield, MA, has had a passion for the medical community for quite some time. Not only has Dawn made it a professional focus as a Regulatory Assistant at Kirwan Surgical Products, but she has also made it a personal one. Over the last 11 years, Dawn has co-captained medical tent 23 in the Boston Marathon and volunteered her time as a medical volunteer for dozens of Special Olympics Massachusetts events to ensure the safety of the athletes. Dawn’s volunteer pursuits have come full circle as she embarks on her Boston Marathon journey. Dawn says she was driven to sign up for this year’s Boston Marathon when she saw Greg Schwartz, a 2015 Special Olympics Massachusetts Boston Marathon team member and a long time Special Olympics Massachusetts athlete, run by her medical tent in last year’s race. Seeing Greg run by her reminded her of why Special Olympics Massachusetts was such a great organization and it gave her the inspiration she needed to officially apply to the team.
When asked how her experience has been as a medical volunteer for Special Olympics Massachusetts, Dawn had nothing but positive things to say. She remembers one particular event with Special Olympics Massachusetts where she received a t-shirt to represent the organization and later, when the event was over, received a thank you note from the volunteer organizer which made her feel like her time was truly appreciated and valued. Dawn has only been involved with Special Olympics for 3 years, yet feels like Special Olympics Massachusetts’ appreciation is something she has never experienced before. Dawn would not have been exposed to Special Olympics Massachusetts if not for Susan Borden and for Jennifer Dowdy, the Special Olympics Massachusetts Volunteer Engagement Manager. Dawn said she would get emails from Jennifer about ways volunteers could get more involved, and she always appreciated how sincere Jennifer was in her email invitations. Special Olympics means a lot to Dawn, from their gratitude shown to her, to the individual people that work for them, and most importantly the happiness and friendship she sees on the athletes’ faces.
In addition to her experience with Special Olympics Massachusetts, Dawn’s volunteering as co-captain to medical tent 23 in the Boston Marathon has contributed to her motivation for this year’s race. During the Marathon Bombing, she had to “stop runners because there was not a finish line for them to cross anymore”, help people evacuate, and get into medical trucks. While that year’s marathon was an “indescribable experience” and knows it’s a day she will never forget, Dawn signed up for her medical tent position the following year as to not have her view of the Boston Marathon tarnished. She enjoys watching the happy faces of the athletes when she goes to events and just the overall good vibes that is always visible when she goes to an event.
After signing up to run with Special Olympics Massachusetts, Dawn feels like this year’s marathon experience will be significantly different; instead of caring for runners and cheering them on from the sidelines, Dawn is going to be one of the thousands pursuing the dream of crossing the famous Boston Marathon finish line. When asked how she prepared herself for the marathon, mentally and physically, Dawn chuckled. She did not think there was much she could train herself mentally for, but there was a lot to say when it came to being physically prepared. “It is like a second job, when you’re training for the marathon everyday…for hours…”cross fitting or going to the gym, you are constantly doing something…full steam ahead!” Dawn is, “the cupcake queen,” she loves them, but sadly, just like all runners training for a marathon, dieting is something that has to be taken serious if you want to have a great performance. She says, “You feel horrible when running if you eat bad food. It makes you feel sluggish, weak, and overall bad when running.”
As she approaches her 50th birthday, just one week before the 2016 Boston Marathon, Dawn admits that this will be her last full marathon. Running Boston is something she always wanted to do, and she is happy to say this is something she can cross off in her bucket list. Dawn still remembers getting the email confirming her acceptance as a runner for Special Olympics Massachusetts, and she couldn’t believe she was going to be given such a great opportunity. As she teared up with happiness, she said, “These are happy tears”.
Dawn says she is looking forward to running by Wellesley College, seeing her friends and family cheer her on, seeing the Citgo sign as she near the end of the race, and seeing her medical tent 23 on Coolidge Corner. Snow anticipates her feelings when she reaches that finish line will be exhaustion and euphoria. She will think about the fact that she just ran 26.2 miles and will be expecting high fives on her crossover on the finish line. She goes on further to say that this is an experience she will never forget and was happy to do!
Thank you Dawn for everything you do and continue to do for Special Olympics Massachusetts!