Meet Boston Marathon Runner Kaylyn Tebbetts

By Emme Punches,
Special Olympics Massachusetts Events Coordinator

The athletes who run the Boston Marathon pull their inspiration from many different aspects of their lives. For Kalyn Tebbetts, inspiration comes from the core of Special Olympics-our athletes. In her work at Latham Center, tebbettsKalyn has watched her students participate in Special Olympics and has witnessed the positive impact it has had on their lives.

“I have seen my students grow from their participation in Special Olympics. They have become more self-assure and their self-esteem increases when they participate. They take pride in representing our school and promoting the idea that despite their disabilities that they can be athletes. One of our students won a sportsmanship award two years ago and that was such an incredible opportunity for him. It really has made a difference in their lives.”

Watching her students thrive with Special Olympics is why she decided to run the Boston Marathon for Special Olympics Massachusetts. If Kalyn were to ever run the Boston Marathon, it had to be now and it had to be for Special Olympics Massachusetts. She believes that running for a charity makes the running more meaningful. She is no longer running for herself, but the 12,000 athletes across Massachusetts and her students.

We are with you every step of the way! Help support Kalyn now!

Support Kalyn Tebbetts in her Boston Marathon fundraising efforts TODAY!



Meet Boston Marathon Runner Reena Shah

Running the 26.2 miles of the Boston Marathon will be a first for Reena Shah, Special Olympics Boston Marathon team member. But technically she’s been in training for the last seven year, having completed five half marathons and countless shorter races over those years. And like many of our team members it is something that’s been on her bucket list since she was a child growing up in the Framingham, MA.

“I grew up watching the Boston Marathon runners on the route in Framingham. I also had the opportunity to volunteer in the medical tent as a physical therapy student years back. That gave me the chance to learn about marathon training stories and the history of some of the runners.” Now, as a marathon runner herself, Reena has put what she learned to good use. Keeping track of her daily/weekly runs in a spreadsheet she heads out for long training runs in this New England winter weather with her fellow team mates to stay motivated. Running for such an important cause also keeps her motivated.

Reena’s connection to Special Olympics Massachusetts began years ago. As a physical therapy student she worked with Special Olympics athletes advising them on how to stay healthy and active. It was then that she realized her values of wellness and lifelong exercise aligned with the Special Olympics mission of providing athletes of all abilities a way to stay healthy throughout their lives. Reena continued her connection with Special Olympics by fundraising for and participating every year in the Boston Jolly Jaunt in December. Now a member of the marathon team Reena’s connection continues. “I am so excited to support Special Olympics as a marathon runner. I live by the rule of putting 110% into everything I do. Even if I fail, I know that I did the best I could.”

Cheers to Reena for putting in 110% to achieve her dream and supporting Special Olympics so our athletes can also achieve their dreams.

Support Reena Shah’s Boston Marathon fundraising efforts TODAY!

Meet Boston Marathon Runner Allie Tearney

Welcome, to Allie Tearney one of our youngest members of the Special Olympics Boston Marathon team. Allie started her career in high school running short races. As a freshman at Vanderbilt University, she tearneystepped it up by racing in half marathons. Last April, as a sophomore in college, she reached the pinnacle of her running career by finishing her first marathon, the Nashville Rock and Roll Marathon in Nashville, TN. But that was not enough. A native of the Boston area, Allie wanted to bring her talents home. “The Boston Marathon is something that has always been close to my heart. I watched it growing up. After the Marathon bombing I promised myself that I would run it on behalf of those who are not able to run themselves.” So running 26.2 miles for Special Olympics athletes was the motivation she was looking for.

Why run for Special Olympics Massachusetts? Allie’s relationship with Special Olympics began when a family member, who has autism, became an athlete in another state. Because of him she wanted to get involved here in Massachusetts. Her first season she worked one-on-one with an athlete playing basketball. She was hooked. “Honestly, Special tearney2Olympics Massachusetts means everything to me. I have been lucky enough to be involved with the organization as a volunteer, coach, and intern for almost 5 years. Now junior in college, majoring in Special Education, I have chosen to devote my life to this population primarily because of my experience at Special Olympics. I could not thank you enough for greatly influencing and changing my life in such a wonderful way.”

Training this time around has been a little easier for Allie. “I am following a plan that I really enjoy. I’m more in shape and better prepared than I was for my first marathon.” What keeps Allie moving during her grueling training runs, is her love for the athletes of Special Olympics Massachusetts. They follow the same motto that she does in life, “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” Here’s to Allie Tearney and let’s hope all our well wishes help push her over the finish line!

Support Allie Tearney’s Boston Marathon fundraising efforts TODAY!


Greg Schwartz Running the Boston Marathon… AGAIN

Champions for 50: John Hancock & Greg Schwartz
John Hancock and Special Olympics athlete, Greg Schwartz are Champions for 50. Over the next two years, John Hancock has committed Boston Marathon bibs to Special Olympics Massachusetts. Greg Schwartz has committed to running the 2017 Boston Marathon – a feat he accomplished in 2015. Together, John Hancock and Schwartz will raise critical funds to expand access to athletic training and competition for individuals with intellectual disabilities while increasing public awareness through the most prestigious running event in New England.

To run the Boston Marathon you need to have perseverance, an unyielding desire to push past your limits and test your physical and mental abilities. As an athlete you have to be in peak form, you have to train, you have to endure and you have to want it. We know all of our runners this year have given 100% and are ready to cross that finish line… but we want to take the time to recognize one of our best.

Rachel with fellow Marathon teammate Greg Schwartz at a training run.

Greg with fellow Marathon teammate Rachel Dill at a training run.

Greg Schwartz stands above the rest as a shining example of why our volunteers, sponsors, partners and staff work so diligently and give so selflessly to Special Olympics. The moment you come into contact with Greg, he’ll put a big smile on your face. Even after a 14 mile training run, he is energetic, excited and positive. Anyone who can get a group of 50 runners to dress up in Star Wars themed apparel for a long Saturday morning run, is a serious rock star! Super Bowl weekend, Greg came ready to run in his TB12 Jersey carrying the sign ‘In Tom We Trust.’ That sign should have also said ‘In Greg we Trust’ because Greg has proven he can do just about anything he sets his mind to.



Doug and Greg_21 miler

Greg supporting 2016 Marathoner Doug Keith

Greg first became involved with Special Olympics over 10 years ago. He has participated as an athlete in almost all we have to offer – from football and soccer to basketball, softball and track. Greg is a natural born leader and a crucial part of any event he is involved in. You can always find him cheering for his teammates, leading them by example, or coaching fellow athletes. It’s safe to say Greg has made a huge impact on Special Olympics as a star athlete. Greg continues to shine in spite of the many challenges he faces every day. Greg was diagnosed with Amblyopia when he was a young child. This causes the brain to favor one eye. When Greg was in his early 20’s he completely lost his vision in one eye and while some might consider this a road block, Greg knows it’s just another hurdle he is going to clear with grace and a relentlessly positive attitude.

In 2015, Greg was asked to run the Boston Marathon on behalf of Special Olympics Massachusetts. While he had never considered running before, Greg knew this was a perfect opportunity to give back to an organization that had given him so much AND to inspire other Special Olympics Massachusetts athletes competes with all year. It’s two years later and Greg is about to run his 3rd marathon. We are honored to show him the same support in his endeavor as he has shown us for over the last decade.

Greg and mom, Patti in a 2014 video about his training for the Boston Marathon:

You can support Greg’s 2017 Boston Marathon experience TODAY!

Greg is running with a bib from the John Hancock Non-Profit Program. This program allows nonprofits like Special Olympics to provide marathon opportunities to fundraisers. John Hancock continues to build their legacy of strong community partnership by supporting sports programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities, here in Massachusetts. Funds raised through the Non-Profit Bib Program over the next two years will provide more inclusive athletic opportunities through Special Olympics Unified sports®.

About Special Olympics Massachusetts Champions for 50
As the Special Olympics Movement reaches its 50th anniversary, Special Olympics Massachusetts Champions for 50 will be highlighting 50 partnerships between Special Olympics athletes and community leaders – including corporations, small businesses, individuals, and professional sports teams. Each Unified partnership will strengthen their legacy of building a more inclusive community with a commitment to raise critical funds and increase awareness of Special Olympics here in the commonwealth.

Meet Boston Marathon Runner Fe Ahrens

By Emme Punches,
Special Olympics Massachusetts Events Coordinator

Fe Ahrens is no stranger to the Boston Marathon. On April 17th she will start her strenuous 26.2 mile run fe-ahrensfrom Hopkinton to the streets of Boston for the third time. Fe ran for Special Olympics Massachusetts in 2015 after getting to know us through her position in sponsorship marketing and work with the non-profit program at John Hancock. While her position affords Fe a bib for the marathon she knows running for SOMA is about so much more than a physical test, it is an admirable cause that deserves her full attention and fundraising efforts. She understands the influence that athletics can have on a person and has a strong desire to share that with Special Olympics.

“Special Olympics represents joy and opportunity. Sports played a huge role in my life growing up. Sports have allowed me to build my self-confidence, while being challenged by my peers. Sports have taught me patience, importance of teamwork, and determination. There’s no better feeling than the joy of crossing the finish line. Special Olympics ensures that no one is denied the joy and opportunity behind sports”

We want to thank Fe for her selfless and courageous pursuit of the Boston Marathon finish line in support of Special Olympics Massachusetts!

Support Fe Ahrens in her Boston Marathon fundraising efforts TODAY!


Meet Boston Marathon Runner Jessica Colangelo

By Emme Punches,
Special Olympics Massachusetts Events Coordinator

The number one thing on Jessica Colangelo’s colangelobucket list is running a marathon. Not just any marathon but the one every Massachusetts native grew up watching, the one every aspiring runner dreams of taking part in one day, the one and only, Boston Marathon. During her college years, Jessica would stand on the sidelines watching the runners as they raced past thousands of onlookers cheering and offering kind words of encouragement. She knew the sense of accomplishment they must feel and decided she could no longer be a bystander, she had to participate. She had to run.

Jessica’s choice of Special Olympics Massachusetts to support in her bid to run the Boston Marathon was a no brainer. Her cousin, Corey, has been a long time athlete for Special Olympics and a major source of inspiration in her life. “My biggest inspiration is Corey O’Keefe. He is dedicated, hard-working, funny, and most of all, caring. Not a marathoner but an ATHLETE. More of an athlete than I’ll ever be. Football. Basketball. Hockey. Weightlifting. Golf. If I take running this marathon half as seriously as he takes any of his sports, I’ll cartwheel over the finish line. Special Olympics has given Corey a platform to showcase his talents and make a positive impact on the people around him. I want to show Corey how he is an inspiration to me and to others. I would like to show him that he is my motivation not to quit. I want my cousin Corey to know what an impact he has made on me, other athletes, Special Olympics, and beyond. “

This might be a “one and done” marathon for Jessica. We can’t wait to journey with and encourage her, as she pursues her dream and finds her inspiration with Special Olympics Massachusetts.

Support Jessica’s Boston Marathon fundraising efforts TODAY!

Meet Boston Marathon Runner Bennet Johnson


By Emme Punches,
Special Olympics Massachusetts Events Coordinator

For Bennet Johnson, mile 21 of the Boston Marathon was where it all started. Right after the runners crest of Heartbreak Hill and looking toward the finish line with tired legs and sore feet, the runners are greeted by, quite possibly, the bennet-johnsonmost enthusiastic group of spectators the race has to offer. The students of Boston College line this exact spot. Offering endless amounts of spirited well wishes as the runners push towards the finish line. Three years ago as Bennet cheered with his classmates for the first time, he set a goal to one day be on the receiving end of the Boston College crowd.

This year Bennet is making his dream a reality and running the marathon for the first time. But his journey is about so much more than a dream, it’s about family. “This is my first marathon, and I am running for my brother Sam. At age three, Sam was diagnosed with severe Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and needs direct supervision from a caregiver or family member 24 hours a day. His first two years of development seemed normal. He smiled, giggled, and repeated words like “Mommy” and “Daddy.” bennet2But without warning, Sam gradually lost his vocabulary, and before my parents knew it, their first-born son seemed to have vanished.

“Autism is heartbreaking in that way. One day my brother was smiling at my parents, speaking their names, and the next, he was looking right through them,” said Benet. “Today, Sam cannot speak, go to the bathroom, or take care of himself. But Sam is blessed with caregivers and volunteers who support him, and work to make the most of his abilities. I am inspired by these people and others in organizations that serve people like Sam. Special Olympics is one of the best organizations in the world supporting people with physical and intellectual disabilities.”

Special Olympics Massachusetts is a proud supporter of Bennet as he takes on his first marathon in support of his brother and our 12,000+ athletes across the state.

Support Bennet’s Boston Marathon fundraising efforts TODAY!