But these Angels Don’t Have Wings, they Have Sneakers.
Sixty angels with running shoes jingled down Commonwealth Avenue in Boston earlier this month. Who are these angels you might ask? They are Johnny’s Angels, a group of wonderfully caring people who came together on a cold winter morning to run the streets of Boston and raise money for Special Olympics Massachusetts. And who is Johnny you ask? He is John Bogosian, team leader and Special Olympics Massachusetts board member who worked tirelessly to make sure his angels were the top fundraising team for the 2016 Jolly Jaunt Boston sponsored by New Balance. Amazingly, this a position they have held for the last five years.
In their seven years running as a team, Johnny’s Angels has raised more than $130,000 for Special Olympics athletes across Massachusetts. And their team has grown from a small group of friends in 2009 to 60 runners in 2016. One of those runners, who joined the team four years ago and happens to be the top fundraiser for the 2016 Jolly Jaunt Boston, is Julie Cristello. This year Julie raised over $1400 for the cause, more than double what her goal was. Her secret to raising so much, “remind people that any contribution is meaningful whether it’s $5 or $500. Even small acts of kindness can make a big difference. Also, reaching out to as many people possible can help increase your fundraising amount.”
Julie joined the team when she learned that friend, and team leader, John Bogosian is affiliated with Special Olympics. “My 51-year-old uncle has down syndrome, and competed in Special Olympics events held at Boston University. He used to run track and compete in the relay event. Because of that I wanted to get involved.” Having a family member with an intellectual disability Julie understands how important Special Olympics is to the athletes. “To me, Special Olympics is another form of peer-support. Being around others who are similar to you is an initiative that has been extremely beneficial in the mental health field. I think there’s a shared experience among people with disabilities, that others may not completely understand. Additionally, athletics are a way to develop skills such as teamwork, and confidence, and promote good health. Although Uncle John does not compete anymore, I’m really excited to provide others with the same opportunity that he’s had.”
Thanks to Cristello and all of Johnny’s Angels, more athletes like Uncle John will experience what it feels like score a goal in soccer or run a relay as part of a Special Olympics team. Johnny’s Angels are true angels whose efforts make a difference every day in the lives of Special Olympics athletes across Massachusetts. Congratulations and a special thanks. Can’t wait to see what you accomplish at next year’s Jolly Jaunt Boston!