JPMorgan's Boston Corporate Challenge - Emotional and a Great Success

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The 30th running of the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge on the Boston Common last Thursday served many purposes on a delightful, cloudless evening.

It provided the usual positive blend of fitness for a sold-out crowd of 12,000 runners and walkers from 571 companies. It raised awareness for three terrific not-for-profit organizations. And it also sent a powerful message that nothing can stop Boston.

'The (Corporate Challenge) symbolizes a lot of the running community and the Boston community coming together and taking back the city and taking back running', said Cara Bednar, company captain for the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau team.

Bednar completed the Boston Marathon on April 15, and moments after crossing the Boylston Street finish line heard what she thought was a 'celebratory shot'. That was the first bomb. The second went off moments later, and that is when Bednar realized something had gone very wrong.

Sdoia, a dedicated runner, was at the finish line as a spectator, getting ready to cheer in a couple of acquaintances. The second blast knocked her to the ground, her right leg bleeding badly. Despite the heroic efforts of a local college student who quickly applied a tourniquet and carried her out of the bedlam, the injury proved to be catastrophic. Sdoia lost her right leg below the knee.

Weeks earlier, Sdoia had registered her National Development team for the Corporate Challenge. It initially had a team of seven entrants. After Sdoia’s injury, Scott Turner took over captaincy and the size of the jumped more than 10-fold to 80. They all wore a t-shirt designed with 'STRONG' across the breast-plate and 'Running for Roseann' as a tag-line.

'It was touching', Sdoia said. 'I’m so grateful for National Development'.

Sdoia was one of 260 people injured in the bombing. Three others were killed. The sun had not set on the tragic day before the “Boston Strong” rallying cry was circling the globe. Shortly thereafter, at the request of Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, The One Fund was created to provide a pool of financial resources for the families most affected.

J.P. Morgan, a proud corporate resident with over 1,000 employees in Greater Boston, quickly announced that all of the 2013 Corporate Challenge entry fees, $540,000, would be donated to The One Fund.

'We are proud to work in Boston, and proud that 12,000 runners and walkers are out here at the Corporate Challenge to define the determination of this great city and region', said Marc White, CEO of the New England Region of the J.P. Morgan Private Bank. 'I’m proud that my employer, J.P. Morgan, was out on the course with the runners and that we all defined the strength, cooperation and spirit of this city'.

A special pre-race ceremony was held with the Boston Gaelic Column playing a patriotic medley on the main parade grounds of the Common, and Boston Police Officer Steve McNaulty performing a stirring rendition of God Bless America.

'This is the greatest city in the world', said Mitchell Weiss, the Chief of Staff for Mayor Menino’s office. 'We’ve been looking forward to the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge so 12,000 people could come together as one to continue the healing'.

After the ceremony, the running conditions on the Back Bay course could not have been better. The temperature was comfortable, the sea breeze was light, the desire to reach the finish line stronger than ever. And a pair of first-time winners led the way.

Andrew Combs of Trinity Partners won a highly-competitive men’s race in 17:43. The 3.5-mile race came down to the final straightaway on Charles Street, with only eight seconds separating first- from fifth-place. David Harris of Nativism Global Asset Management was a strong runner-up in 17:47.

Sara Donahue, representing Abt Associates, was a convincing winner in the women’s race, crossing the finish line in 19:37, 15 seconds in front of Kaitlin Anelauskas of Fidelity Investments.

Fidelity didn’t take a back seat to any other company in terms of total participation. The large investment house had a total of 323 entrants. Liberty Mutual Insurance had 289 and event owner and operator J.P. Morgan 261. Novartis (150), Eaton Vance (134), John Hancock (131), Hill Holliday (128), Wellington Management (120), TJX Companies (117) and Vertex Pharmaceuticals (115) also had impressive turnouts.

In addition to the entry fees to The One Fund, J.P. Morgan, on behalf of all participants, also made a donation to the Emerald Necklace Conservancy and City Spotlights Summer Leadership Program.

Funds to the Emerald Necklace will be earmarked to plant trees in honor of the Marathon victims as well as providing support for the Youth Leadership and Green Team Program, aimed at inner-city youth, ages 15-18.

The City Spotlights donation will provide youth with the paid opportunity to participate in a seven-week program focused on leadership development, career training and community outreach.

AOL Advertising was judged for the second consecutive year to have one of the two best designs in the t-shirt contest conducted at Joining it on the awards stage this year was first-time winner Nuance Communications.

The 37th year of the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Series — fresh off eight races in the last 31 days — takes a little breather before resuming on July 10-11 with two nights of racing in London’s Battersea Park.

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