Thursday, December 1, 2022

Message of Thanks from Beth Shluger for 29 years of memories

At the end of a rewarding career, I'm trying to find the right words.  Trying to express gratitude for you - for friends, colleagues, supporters and volunteers who helped me - helped us, really, to build this community of runners with a purpose beyond running.

How far we have come, since the days of these infamous hours-before-race-start stories:

1994 – 2:00 am: My husband Ken and I painted 42 miles of streets with directional arrows, year one of the Hartford Marathon.

1995 – 3:00 am: I constructed a balloon arch in the garage of City Place and trailed it through Hartford to adorn the start line.

1996 – 3:30 am: Ken and I snuck into the dark, quiet hotel kitchen to "borrow" a dozen coffee urns and make coffee for 400 volunteers.

And it continued, for 29 years.

In 2022 – After just 3 hours of sleep, the Operations team of 12 rose at 2 am to start the day's work at the Eversource Hartford Marathon.

Thank you for the memories from all of those finish lines…the marriage proposals, the many moments of pure joy, of fathers with daughters, sons with mothers, friends supporting each other.  I got to witness it all – the father carrying his disabled young son across the finish, thanking friends who raised funds through the race to purchase a wheelchair van. We witnessed our heroic medical team saving a life at the 2022 finish line.

So many people and so many moments, including one of the greatest privileges of my life: the 2013 Sandy Hook Run for the Families.

From the sweet voices of the children singing America the Beautiful, to our friend, an Irish tenor, delivering an emotional National Anthem, we strived to set the right tone - one of respect, and hope and remembrance.  And so, we brought our ship's bell and rang it 26 times – once every 5 seconds – the solemn, poignant, beautiful sound enveloped the crowd of 15,000 in complete silence.  Every 5 seconds, the bell reminded us of an angelic 6-year-old or caring, selfless educator. The sound and the significance struck us to the depths of our souls.

You all have touched me in ways I will forever cherish.  My thank-yous, in no particular order, are as earnest and genuine as all of you have been.

Thank you to all the runners, who demonstrated over and over the power and compassion of the human spirit.  Who unfailingly took their time to share stories of how they got to the finish line, literally and metaphorically. Thank you for loving what we created for you.

Thank you to the newbies, those first timers who took that first step with HMF. Through the power of inspiration, you got moving for your own health and encouraged me to create new opportunities to embrace more like you.

Thank you to the amazing people who rose in the dark of night to drive to a new place - perhaps 60, 70, 80 miles away - to join us in the labor of staging races. Through rain, cold and heat, nothing stopped those volunteers. You are part of the HMF family and honor us by making the HMF family part of yours.

Thank you to all those who said yes
when I asked 30 years ago for help, especially Chris and Peter Andrews, for being "all in, in all ways, at all times". To Art and Judy Snyder, our first and most loyal volunteers. To Jill Hallet, for being the first HMF employee, who's still with us and celebrating her 25th year. To the rest of the team, Josh, Matt, Ellen, Nancy, Liz, Genevieve, Sarah, John and the dozen more past and present employees, whose passion and commitment to our work equaled my own. Thank you.

To David Polk and Aetna for first funding this dream. To those who followed their lead to keep HMF going and growing: United Technologies, ING, and especially the people of Eversource, the best partners I could ever imagine.

Thank you to my family – mom and dad, my brothers, my children David, Olivia, Jacque and Cam.  And most of all, to Ken.  For 29 years, he has risen with me at 3 or 4 am to load trucks, fill water jugs and set traffic cones for more than 400 races.  HMF is as much his as it is mine.

And this is where I end. You have all moved me to the depths of my soul.

Thank you,


No comments:

Post a Comment