By Karina Hornbaker & Lauren Gainor
Jen Reilly’s dedication to Special Olympics Massachusetts goes beyond her commitment to run the 2016 Boston Marathon; Jen is a valued volunteer, a special education teacher for Bourne Middle School, a co-creator of a local Special Olympics program and the sister of an athlete.
Since the start of her involvement 16 years ago when her adopted brother Gregory joined Special Olympics Massachusetts as an athlete, one of Jen’s biggest accomplishment’s was creating the Cape Cod Champs volleyball and flag football program in collaboration with her sister Shannon. Over the years, the Cape Cod program has grown and so has Jen’s investment in Special Olympics Massachusetts. Jen thanks the organization for everything they have been able to give her brother remarking: “We don’t know where he’d be without Special Olympics.” Jen goes on to say that it’s amazing to see how happy he is when he’s participating in Special Olympics; Greg makes a point to write his practices and final games in his planner every week.
After fundraising and running the Boston Jolly Jaunt 5k for Special Olympics each December with her sister, Jen decided to take on the 2015 Boston Marathon as a Special Olympics Massachusetts team member. Jen always thought of how much of an accomplishment it would be to run a marathon, so she decided to “go for it.” During the race, Jen thought about all she accomplished and “couldn’t help but smile when running the Boston Marathon.” After raising over $8,400 for the organization in 2015, Jen decided to come back for another year to take on Boston’s 26.2 miles a second time.
By nature Jen “loves challenges” and believes in always having a goal in mind. Jen says that having the focus of finishing the 2016 Boston Marathon helps keep her motivated during training, especially when she has to wake up early to train in all kinds of weather. When thinking about fundraising, Jen believes any challenges she faces are worth it because her Marathon fundraising will provide opportunities for the athletes to participate year round in Special Olympics Massachusetts which will allow them to participate in 24 different types sports, create friendships, and have something to look forward to. Its people like her brother Greg, her sister Shannon and all the other kids involved in the Special Olympics programs that mentally push Jen to the finish line. Jen says she is so excited to be a part of the Special Olympics Massachusetts Boston Marathon team again this year and has set her sights on going above and beyond her 2015 fundraising amount.
Look for Jen as she runs with Special Olympics Massachusetts for the 2016 Boston Marathon – Good luck, Jen!