LAKE PLACID - Hundreds of people ran, walked, biked, skateboarded or rode in strollers or wheelchairs around Mirror Lake Monday night to raise money for the victims of last week's Boston Marathon bombings, and to show their support for a city still reeling from the deadly attacks.
The Boston Strong LP tribute run was organized by Greg Borzilleri, who estimated that as many as 500 people participated. Before the run got under way, the huge crowd gathered at Mirror Lake Beach and listened to a recording of a moving rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner," sung by Boston Bruins fans just two days after the marathon bombings. Local students also handed out photos of 8-year-old Martin Richard, one of the three people who died.
In the photo, Richard is holding a homemade sign that reads, "No More Hurting People" and "Peace." The photo has been widely shared on social media sites.
A huge crowd sets out in silence for the first half-mile of Lake Placid’s Boston Strong tribute run Monday night. The event was held to honor and show support for the victims of last week’s Boston Marathon bombings.
"Tragedies like this remind us of how special it is to live here in this beautiful place, lucky to be relatively safe, lucky to have people around us who care enough to come to a tribute event like this," Borzilleri told the crowd. "Normally our community gathers in numbers like this to cheer, whether it's a big sporting event, a graduation or some type of celebration. Today, as we look around at our friends, loved ones and neighbors, we're reminded how fortunate we are."
The first half-mile took place in silence as a tribute to the bombing victims. The atmosphere was solemn, and the only noise came from the steady shuffling of feet on the pavement.
But as runners, walkers and a few bikers circled Mirror Lake and came down Main Street, their spirits were noticeably up. Some gave high-fives to onlookers while others flashed the peace sign or gave a thumbs-up to photographers scattered along the 2.7-mile loop. Many of the participants wore "Boston Strong LP" T-shirts; clothing sporting the logos of the various Boston sports teams was also popular.
Todd Smith of Saranac Lake grew up just outside of Boston and still has friends living in the city. He and his wife, Hilary, ran for their friend Julie Weeden, who was working at the Forum Restaurant on Boylston Street when one of the bombs exploded.
"We had no idea what to expect," Smith said. "We showed up 20, 30 minutes early just to come here. There was just maybe 50 people, and at first we were like, 'Oh, I wonder if it's even going to happen.' And then all of a sudden - there must have been 500 people tonight."
A trio of Lake Placid residents who ran in last week's marathon also ran in Monday's tribute event. Rachel Stanton said it was overwhelming.
"(There's) people that aren't even runners that came out to support runners in general and everything that happened in Boston," she said.
Another marathon runner, Darci LaFave, said the community support made her feel welcome and lucky to be home. Her fiance, Billy Whitney, said he didn't expect so many people to show up.
"It felt great to look back and see the field of people going down the road," he said. "It's just incredible."
Borzilleri told the Enterprise he wanted to do something to pay tribute to the bombing victims, and also to find a way to support them. Donations were accepted throughout the night, with proceeds going to the One Boston Fund Inc., a charity established by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tony Menino.
Borzilleri credited social media websites and local media outlets for getting the word out on relatively short notice. He noted that it wasn't just runners who showed up - hundreds of people walked, while some young children broke out their bicycles to ride alongside their parents. Some mothers and fathers pushed their babies in strollers, and others pushed people along in wheelchairs.
Dozens of people even joined the event mid-way through when they realized what was happening.
"That's what I wanted to do," Borzilleri said. "I wanted to make it inclusive. ... I figured for us, we'll run, walk, push our kids in a stroller, for Boston. I thought it was great."