BY TOM DALTON
---- — BEVERLY — The sister of the Salem man who was seriously injured in a bomb blast at the Boston Marathon took part in last night’s community run to honor and support her brother’s family.
“We have gained so much strength from all of you and from the entire country,” Tricia Woolfenden said through tears to the more than 100 runners who gathered in the cold in front of the New England Running Co., organizers of last night’s event.
“I can’t begin to say what this means,” said Woolfenden, 33, of Boca Raton, Fla.
She flew to Boston after learning that her older brother, Stephen Woolfenden, 38, of Salem, and her young nephew, Leo, were injured in one of the two blasts at the Patriots Day race. They were standing near the finish line to cheer on marathoner Amber Woolfenden, Stephen’s wife and Leo’s mother.
Leo was released last week from Children’s Hospital Boston. Stephen was listed in fair condition yesterday at Boston Medical Center.
A large contingent turned out last night from the Wicked Running Club, where Amber is a member. She was one of the club’s two official entrants in the marathon.
“Amber is a good friend, as she is to other members of the club,” said Tim Short, 32, who pushed his daughter, Lily, 2, in a stroller during the three-mile jog along Route 1A in North Beverly. “From the bottom of my heart, we wish her the best.”
Short, a marathoner, did not run this year’s Boston Marathon but plans to run next year in honor of his late father, who died of cancer, and of all those affected by the horrific events of last week. The blasts killed three people, including an 8-year-old boy, and injured more than 180.
“I was going to run it for my dad,” Short said. “Now, this just gives me that extra motivation.”
The Aztecs, a U-12 girls soccer club based in Beverly, ran as a group yesterday.
“We had a practice scheduled for today but decided it would be better to spend it doing this,” said Aztec coach Mike Kersker, 41, the athletic director at Waring School in Beverly.
Wes Lassen, the general manager at the New England Running Co., put a post about the run on Facebook last week but had no idea what kind of response it would get.
“This is a much bigger turnout that I expected,” he said, gazing across a crowd of runners, many wearing blue and yellow, the official Boston Marathon colors.
The store also collected donations for the Woolfenden family. The Salem Five set up funds for both the Woolfendens and for the family of Martin Richard, the Dorchester boy who was killed. His father, Bill Richard, is from Salem. Donations can be sent to the Salem Five (Attn. Woolfenden Family Fund or Richard Family Fund), 210 Essex St., Salem, MA, 01970.
“Runners are special people,” said Brenda Ernst, 45, of Rowley. “You know if something ever happens, they will be there for you.”
Before joining the other runners, Tricia Woolfenden said one last thank-you.
“I’ve always loved Boston,” she said, tapping her hand on her jacket, “but now it’s in my heart.”
Tom Dalton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.