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Welcome to Dennis' 2014 Boston Marathon
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I'm getting ready to ROCK the 2014 Boston Marathon

What a difference a year makes. It was about this time last year that I announced my intention of running the 117th Boston Marathon to benefit the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism. At the time, Nancy and I were coming to terms with Patrickís autism diagnosis which had dramatically changed the day to day routine for our family. We felt scared, alone, and isolated. When I started my fundraising campaign, however, I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of support we received from family, friends, and even total strangers.

I was proud to run on behalf of an organization that directly supports families affected by autism spectrum disorder. Raising a child is a hard work. For families raising children on the autism spectrum this work is even more challenging. Children with autism need access to services and help from professionals, both in and out of the home, to reach their full potential. The Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism helps families along the way in the form of resources, education, and advocacy. By helping fund organizations that provide direct services and recreational opportunities, the foundation is committed to improving the quality of life for individuals with autism and their families.

In preparation for the 2013 Boston Marathon, I spent the better part of five months training, both physically and mentally, to reach a milestone that I viewed as impossible my entire life. Going outside in the middle of February is not on my list of favorite things to do, let alone spending three hours running from Copley Square to Newton and then back again (oh, and all this through snow, slush, and ice). But there was always something there to push me. I was inspired by Patrickís perseverance. I was inspired by families who face similar challenges. I was inspired by support, encouragement, and donations from countless individuals.

As I got ready to enter the starting corral in Hopkinton I recall putting on my Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation singlet with a big smile on my face. I was about to start the last phase of a journey that was going to end with me completing the Boston Marathon. The feelings of isolation from a few months prior were replaced with overwhelming love and support. This was only reinforced as I ran down Route 135 making my way to Boston and seeing so many supporters along the way.

As I approached Kenmore Square I knew that something had gone horribly wrong. I thankfully got word that my family was safe and I continued to run. About 400 meters after a sign that declared ďOne Mile to GoĒ my strides came to a stop. Race officials and police officers were lined up across Comm Ave. informing us that the race was over.

During each long run there was several times that I visualized myself turning onto Boylston Street, seeing my wife and sons, and then crossing the finish line. This visual strengthened each stride I took. It wasnít until over the summer that I began to lament the fact that this did not come to fruition. I set out on this journey with the goals of raising money that will directly help families affected by autism and running 26.2 miles. Because of the events of that day I was not able to fully achieve this goal.

I am thrilled that the Boston Athletic Association has invited runners like me to participate in the 118th Boston Marathon. I now know that I have what it takes to run a marathon and I have made it my mission to see this dream become a reality. I will not achieve this goal alone. Nancy (reluctantly) is up for another winter of listening to my war stories from training, preparing ice baths, taping my calves, and perhaps most importantly, caring for our boys while Iím training.

We are taking this on again because we look at Patrick and see the incredible progress he has made in the last year. He just turned five and is taking swimming lessons (sans noodle last week), blowing us away with his pretend play, and wanting to play (in his own way) with other kids. These things seemed like they would never happen a year ago and we look at the future as bright with possibilities.

We know that he has made these gains because of the dedication of his teachers, ABA therapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, neighbors, friends and family. We feel lucky that Patrick has been surrounded by such a great team of professionals. I know that not every family affected by autism has it so lucky. Thatís why The Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism is so incredibly important. Last year my 25+ mile run rose over $12,000.00 for the Foundation thanks to the generosity of so many. While it was never a part of the plan to be starting this process all over again Iím asking for your support again. Together I know that we can absolutely crush what we accomplished in 2013. The time has come to continue this journey that will end on April 21, 2014 on Boylston Street and I need you to come along for the run.
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