Anna Cybulski and her husband, Barrett, had a house in South Boston when they decided to move to Hopkinton; but their residence wasn’t the only thing about to change. “The very same day we signed the purchase and sale, I found out I was pregnant — so, good timing, all in all!” she recalled.
Trading her career as an occupational therapist at Boston Children’s Hospital for full-time parenting was a dramatic shift in her lifestyle. Cybulski was used to overcoming work-related challenges, and taking care of a child was a very different role.
“I had a bit of an identity crisis, I think. I felt a little lost, a little isolated,” she shared.
Then Cybulski joined a Hopkinton running club called Moms Run This Town. She had run cross country in high school and college, but she wasn’t familiar with the technical aspects of running, and she’d never been in a road race.
“Friends would say, ‘It’s so nice to have someone who runs a sub 9,’ and I was like, ‘What’s a sub 9?’ ” Cybulski confessed, referring to a shorthand expression for minutes per mile pace.
She kept running and then started doing races, and soon realized the needs that were once satisfied by her job could be fulfilled in other ways.
“I’ve kind of fallen in love with the process of setting goals and training,” she said.
Since then, she’s run three half-marathons — the Cambridge Half in 2021, which she’s “proud to have completed in under two hours!”; the Horseneck Half in May 2022; and then the Cambridge race again.
When people in her running group started to sign up for the 2023 Boston Marathon, Cybulski decided to go for it.
“I thought, ‘You know what, why not give this a shot? I’m definitely going to say yes to opportunity!’ — and it’s been a pretty active year!”
It’s been active in other new arenas as well.
Like the technical aspects of running a foot race, Cybulski also wasn’t familiar with local issues or government processes, and she didn’t pay much attention to politics. But, “I guess I’m getting to that stage as a parent, moving into this community and seeing how much I’ve gained since moving here — in terms of the friendships, the Hopkinton Moms Group, this running club — I started thinking, I didn’t just invest in a house, I invested in a community,” she reflected. “I wanted to be more involved in what’s going on in the town.
“So when eHop reached out, I was like, this is so great. … I mean, the whole goal of eHop is to educate — to reach all those people who really don’t know what to say or how to vote, or what’s going on, or how to get involved in the discussions on town matters.”
Formerly called Educate Hopkinton, eHop is a non-biased, nonpartisan civic organization established in 2007 to present accurate, relevant and easily accessible information to help Hopkinton voters understand town and school budget-related issues and make informed choices.
Ninety percent of Hopkinton’s registered voters do not attend Town Meetings. But eHop — and now, Cybulski — aims to change that. “eHop empowers people to feel they have the knowledge to make decisions, and that’s really important,” she said. So, she’ll be running her first-ever Boston Marathon to help empower eHop.
“I’m really excited for the challenge,” she said, adding that her fundraising goal furthered her motivation.
“It’s amazing to see the support — local vendors willing to make donations or provide gift cards for raffles, to feel the connectedness and to see people say, ‘Yeah, this is a big deal, and we’re here to help you.’ It just feels really good,” she shared. “And every dollar that comes in, whether $5 or $50, brings a big smile to my face. Everyone feels the same excitement, and that’s pretty awesome.”
Her family supports her mission, as well. Barrett and their sons — Price, age 4, and Rowan, age 2 — have attended all her races, and they’ll be at the Boston Marathon, holding signs to cheer her on. The changes in Cybulski’s life, and her responses to them, seem to underpin her message.
“Sometimes big changes seem unattainable, but I feel like, we really can, within our own communities, we can have a voice,” she said.
More information about Cybulski’s endeavor can be found at her GoFundMe page (Anna Runs Boston), on Instagram (RunWithMe_eHop) or at eHop.org.