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McCluskey returns home to support Hopkinton Emergency Fund with Boston run

by | Apr 11, 2024 | Featured

Growing up on Rocky Woods Road in Hopkinton, Stephen McCluskey was heavily influenced by the running of the Boston Marathon in his hometown. His “hidden goal” was to run it someday.

Now the former Hopkinton High School athlete is running the marathon in support of the Hopkinton Emergency Fund, a public nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide temporary emergency financial assistance to residents of Hopkinton through collaboration with existing local human services organizations.

Maryland resident Daniel Morrissey also is running on behalf of HEF. He ran the Boston Marathon in support of the 26.2 Foundation in 2019.

Marathon dream begins at home

Athletics have played a huge role in McCluskey’s life. He played hockey throughout high school and is an avid skateboarder. It was his longtime dream to run the Boston Marathon.

McCluskey, 28, decided to start running as a way to focus on his health two years ago. A second motivator to run was his job at the New Balance corporate headquarters in Brighton.

“I had never been into running that much because I was playing hockey,” he explained. “I also played football and lacrosse, so I was always involved in team sports.

Stephen McCluskey

Stephen McCluskey

“A couple of years ago, I got the job at New Balance,” he continued. “Just being surrounded by a lot of runners and running product all the time, I decided to start running just for exercise.”

McCluskey said he has “really gotten into fitness” over the past couple of years, making this the perfect time to turn his longtime dream into reality.

“I’ve been taking certain steps to get to where I’m at,” he said. “I’ve done a 180 when it comes to personal fitness. There was a point in my life when I thought I could never do that. The opportunity for me to run the Boston Marathon presented itself to me this year, and I jumped on it.”

While McCluskey doesn’t “plan on becoming a marathoner,” he is striving to support HEF because of its community impact.

“I’ll probably never do it again, because I’ve been dealing with some injuries while training, with Achilles issues and tendonitis in my left foot,” he shared. “It’s definitely been a roller coaster.”

He started with The Hal Higdon Novice 1 marathon training program, an 18-week program that intersperses long runs with rest periods and stresses running at a comfortable pace.

“I’ve adapted my training to be one week on then one week of total rest,” he said. “I go through waves where I’m feeling super confident and then feeling like it’s a big mistake.

“But I really wanted to run for the Hopkinton Emergency Fund,” added McCluskey. “Its services are very broad. It definitely helps a lot of people in Hopkinton. My goal is to finish the race and raise funds.”

McCluskey started reaching out to local charities after learning about a town Zoom meeting when marathon numbers were being distributed. HEF fundraising and outreach co-chair Stephanie Whelan was the first person to reach out to McCluskey about his interest in running for a local charity.

“I think a lot of charities are very specific on what they raise funds for, like the Jimmy Fund or the Boys & Girls Club,” McCluskey explained. “The Hopkinton Emergency Fund provides financial assistance to underprivileged families that might be going through a multitude of issues. I really liked that it wasn’t honed into specifics. It really struck a chord with me.”

He noted that there is a stereotype “that everyone in Hopkinton is white and privileged.”

“When I was growing up, it seemed like that as well,” he said. “But there are people who need assistance that live in town. I can think of some people I know that might have benefited if this was a thing back in the day.”

McCluskey added that the pandemic and its aftereffects, as well as the national economy, have impacted more families than people would likely expect.

“I’m just stoked to be able to do this for the Hopkinton Emergency Fund,” he said (his fundraising page can be found at givengain.com/project/stephen-raising-funds-for-hopkinton-emergency-fund-71466).

McCluskey also has begun to advocate for his other athletic passion of skateboarding.

“I think the biggest thing that has changed for me in Hopkinton is the tear-down of the skate park [at EMC Park],” he explained, noting that skateboarding is a favorite pastime. “When I was younger, I was actually part of a group that raised money for the wooden ramps in there.”

He added that recently he has been talking about how to develop a new skate park with Parks & Recreation Department program coordinator Colleen Allen to capitalize on the sport’s growing popularity.

Morrissey also runs to benefit HEF

Daniel Morrissey is a 66-year-old resident of Severna Park, Maryland. He met Whelan in 2019 when she was involved in the 26.2 Foundation and decided to support HEF because of her influence.

“Joining the Hopkinton Emergency Fund fit perfectly with my values,” he shared via email. “I am a board member for several nonprofit organizations in my area and feel that it is my moral responsibility to help those facing disadvantages in life, especially economic and financial struggles. I had the chance to visit Hopkinton in 2019 and loved the area.”

A self-described “late bloomer,” Morrissey began running 10 years ago. He was spurred into running after his wife participated in a 5K race and challenged him to run. He ran the Tokyo Marathon on March 3, supporting a nonprofit that provides services and education to children in Cambodia.. He has run 18 marathons so far, “with several more on the schedule.”

He added that running the Boston Marathon is particularly meaningful for him because of its timing. April 13 will mark his 36th year of sobriety.

Said Morrissey: “Running is a big part of how I stay in recovery.”

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