SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

April 29, 2013

Marblehead boy raising money for marathon victims

BY JULIE MANGANIS
STAFF WRITER

---- — MARBLEHEAD — Cole Garaventi watched the first finishers of the Boston Marathon on television, then started playing Xbox.

It wasn’t until his dad, Jim, came home that he knew what had happened at the finish line.

“I was scared,” said Cole, 13, a seventh-grader at Marblehead Veterans Middle School. “I was scared and angry that something like that could happen so close.”

Cole had an idea. Some of his friends at school had used rubber wristband bracelets to raise money and awareness for other causes. So he hopped onto the computer, did a Google search and found a company to make bracelets.

“Some of my friends were doing wristbands for other stuff,” said Cole, whose mom, Bonnie, says Cole is part of a group of friends who frequently raise money for schools and other worthy causes.

Cole thought of a message to put on the bracelets, as well: “Pray for Boston.” The colors, turquoise blue and yellow, match the colors of both the marathon and the Boston flag.

On the other side of the bracelet, he simply entered the date of the marathon, 4/15/2013.

“He has this tremendous respect for anyone who serves, military, police, firefighters,” his mother said. “I think it has to do with the code of honor and the commitment these people make.”

She wasn’t entirely surprised when Cole showed her and her husband the information.

“I have this idea,” he said. He would give out the bracelets in exchange for $2 donations.

So they made a deal. Mom and dad agreed to front him the cost of producing the first batch of 350 bracelets.

They were gone within a day.

“He came home and said, ‘We need more,’” Bonnie said.

The idea took off. A local jeweler, Sandy Burke, saw the bracelets on Bonnie’s Facebook page and took 50, which sold out in a flash.

They’ve made two more orders of more than 2,000 bracelets since then.

The money raised will be donated to The One Fund.

Burke is selling them at her store, Nuggets, and several other businesses have signed on to distribute the bracelets, as well.

Cole’s dad, who is in the advertising business, quickly registered and created a website, prayforBoston.org, and set up a PayPal account so that people can order the bracelets online.

“This community is so amazing,” Burke said. “It’s just incredible. People hear the story, and they all want to help Cole.”

But it’s not just the community of Marblehead; the bracelets have now turned up on ’80s rocker Pat Benatar, who played a show in New Hampshire last week, and on Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

Besides Nuggets, on Atlantic Avenue, and the website, the bracelets can be found in Marblehead at Burn Fitness Studio at TAJ Pilates and Atlantic Veterinary Hospital on Ocean Avenue; in Swampscott at Paradise Gym on Elm Place and Incognito Revealed on Humphrey Street; in Salem at SUP East Coast Style Headquarters and Leah’s Skincare, both on Congress Street, and Beach Chiropractic on Essex Street; and in Peabody at Wavelengths Hair Salon and Day Spa on Lynnfield Street.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.