Two Jamaica Plain residents, Katy Erker and Meghan Shanahan, will run in the 118th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 21, 2014. By running, they will help Samaritans, a local suicide prevention organization, raise awareness and much needed funds for its life-saving services.
Katy and Meghan are two of the 24 people who are running the distance for suicide prevention for Samaritans, which has been serving the communities of Greater Boston and MetroWest for 40 years. Katy grew up in St. Louis, MO and has been living in Boston with her partner since 2009. She first learned about Samaritans when she and a friend ran the 5K in 2011. This will be her second marathon. Katy runs in memory of two family members who died by suicide in 2013.
Meghan was born and raised in Acton. She became involved with the Samaritans as a volunteer on their helpline in 2009, and has run in Samaritans 5K for many years. Meghan has a passion for assisting those who struggle and works as a psychiatric nurse practitioner at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Meghan is one of nine Samaritans’ team members returning to run for the organization after they were unable to finish due to the tragedy of the Boston Marathon bombings last year.
Katy along with 12 other runners secured a number through the 2014 Boston Marathon John Hancock Non-Profit Program and for the first time ever two qualified runners have made the decision to run on Samaritans’ behalf. With Katy and Meghan’s help, the 2014 Samaritans Marathon Team has already raised over $130,000 and the goal is to exceed $150,000.
Katy said: “I am so grateful to be running the 2014 Boston Marathon for Samaritans, and I’m honored to be running in memory of my uncle Eddie and my cousin Jason, both of whom my family lost to suicide in 2013. Since losing my loved ones, I have become more and more grateful for the Samaritans’ life-saving services. I run because it gives me energy and I seek to use that energy to create hope and healing for my family and other families who have lost loved ones to suicide.
“I’m also running in response to the explosions at the finish line of last year’s Boston Marathon,” she added. “Last year, after the bombings, Samaritans experienced a drastic increase in calls to their 24/7 Crisis Services. They supported Bostonians and our community as we struggled in the wake of devastation and fear that struck us each personally. With the thousands of runners participating in this year’s marathon, I’m running because the City of Boston and the human spirit are strong and resilient, and we will only grow deeper in community after loss.”
Meghan said: “Once again I am excited to run the Boston Marathon to raise money for the Samaritans. As part of their 2013 team, I ran 25.7 miles before the race was stopped. Training this winter has brought many challenges. But every time I step outside to train in the freezing cold I remember the tragic events of last year and I’m inspired to make a big difference for vulnerable people in our community. Since the tragedy that occurred that day, demand for the Samaritans services has increased significantly. I am grateful for another chance to cross the finish line while supporting an organization whose work is so important to me and many others."
Last year, 469 volunteers helped Samaritans answer 142,577 calls and over 900 chats; deliver 268 suicide prevention workshops and community outreaches to 12,937 people; and make over 900 connections with people bereaved by suicide. Every day Samaritans helps people build resiliency skills and this was needed more than ever following the tragedy of the Boston Marathon bombings last year when Samaritans saw a 20% increase in its call volumes.
“Samaritans’ purpose is to reduce suicide by alleviating despair, isolation, distress and suicidal feelings among individuals in our community, 24 hours a day; to educate the public about suicide prevention; and to reduce the stigma associated with suicide,” said Roberta Hurtig, Executive Director of Samaritans. “Our amazing team of marathon runners, including our courageous returning runners, is helping us accomplish our mission through raising awareness and funds for our services that emphasize confidential, nonjudgmental, and compassionate listening. We are so grateful to have received marathon numbers from John Hancock.”
The 2014 Marathon Team is supported by Christian Caldaroni Memorial Foundation, Flavin Architects, Gina Marsh Music, Goldhaber Research Associates, Professional Athletes Foundation and Skidmore & Co.
To make a donation in honor of Katy or Meghan and Samaritans Marathon Team, please visit: http://www.crowdrise.com/Samaritans2014BostonMarathon/fundraiser/katyerker
More about Samaritans
Over the past 40 years, Samaritans volunteers have answered more than 2.5 million phone calls. The agency has trained more than 4,500 volunteers and instructed more than 100,000 individuals through its Community Education and Outreach Program and has supported over 10,000 individuals who have lost a loved one to suicide.
Samaritans Statewide Toll Free Helpline: 877-870-HOPE (4673)
More about The John Hancock Boston Marathon Non-Profit Program
As part of its Boston Marathon sponsorship, John Hancock donates hundreds of guaranteed entries each year to select non-profits including Samaritans. Organizations use these entries to recruit individual runners who pledge to raise money for their cause. Their 2013 Marathon Program was their most successful year to date with non-profit partners raising over $7.8 million.