By: Lauren Gainor & Karina Hornbaker
“Commitment, dedication, perseverance, opportunity, hope, laughter, tears of joy”; this is what Special Olympics Massachusetts means to Doug Keith.
In the 18 years he’s been involved with Special Olympics Massachusetts, Doug has been an enthusiastic fundraiser, a committed coach, an active Board Chair, and a fearless member of the organization’s 2015 and 2016 Boston Marathon teams. More important than all of these accomplishments, Doug is a proud parent of a Special Olympics Massachusetts athlete.
In May of 1998, Doug and his wife Kathy learned that their son James, also known as Jimmy, had Down syndrome. Determined to help Jimmy achieve his personal best, Doug looked into Special Olympics. Being impressed by what he saw, Doug signed up for a golf event which started his family’s lifelong commitment to the organization. While at that time they didn’t know what was in store for their family, Doug says, “We had no idea how lucky we would be to have Jimmy in our [lives], to watch him grow. We also had no idea how our lives would be forever changed by our involvement in Special Olympics of Massachusetts.”
Since his introduction to the Special Olympics family, Doug says there have been countless impactful moments which further solidified his commitment to the organization. One he specifically recalls was while coaching basketball and an athlete made her first basket after a season of practicing. Doug said he witnessed “the tears on the parents’ faces as they watch with pride and amazement.” It was touching memories such as this that first inspired Doug in 2015 to sign up for the Special Olympics Massachusetts Boston Marathon team to run a distance five times further than he had in the past.
When asked why he wanted to come back to run another 26.2 and fundraise for Special Olympics Massachusetts, Doug said, “I am inspired by the Special Olympics athletes who push themselves every day and even more so when they compete –on the field, the court, in the pool or on the slopes – they overcome so many physical, emotional and mental challenges, and I decided I would push myself to the limit in their honor.”
With an outstanding $57,000 raised by Doug in 2015, Doug is setting his sights on an impressive $75,000 goal for his 2016 Boston Marathon fundraising. Doug says the best part of fundraising is the well-wishes he gets and people thanking him for fundraising. “It should be the other way around,” says Doug, but he is thrilled people are invested in a cause so important to his family. Doug’s individual fundraising for this year’s marathon will allow over 192 athletes to compete year-round in Special Olympics Massachusetts.
With race day approaching, Doug is looking forward to seeing his nephew on the sidelines by heartbreak hill and his wife, kids and older brother David near Newton Wellesley. Doug said he’s looking forward to hearing the “thousands of people who barely know who you are, cheering you on.” When Doug reaches the finish line he says he will be “excited, tired, and a little teary eyed.” Doug believes all the miles will be well worth it after he’s crossed the finish line and thinks about what he has given back to Special Olympics Massachusetts for everything they continue to do for the athletes.
Doug, thank you for your dedication and commitment to Special Olympics Massachusetts. We are a better organization because of your contributions over the last 18 years. We’ll all be cheering for you on race day! To be part of Doug’s fundraising journey, click here to help him reach his $75,000 goal!