SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

March 29, 2014

Jean DePlacido column: Tabbut running Boston Marathon for Franklin Park Coalition

Jean DePlacido
The Salem News

---- — Rich Tabbut ran the 2013 Boston Marathon in memory of his mother, and he thought that would be his last time doing the historic race. Less than a half mile from the finish line Tabbut and other marathoners were stopped and prevented from finishing the race because of the horrific events that occurred on that day when so many people were injured or killed in the bombing. At first they had no idea what was happening, and for Tabbut and so many others trying to find relatives waiting for them at the finish line was a nightmare.

But that expression Boston Strong is so much more than a phrase. Because of what happened in 2013 so many are committed to running again and giving back to the city.

Tabbut is among those determined to reach the finish line. He will be back for another race on April 21 as a member of the Franklin Park Coalition Marathon Team because he wanted to give back for all the help he and others were given a year ago.

“It has been a very tough winter for training, especially for me,” said Tabbut, a Beverly resident. “I have cold air asthma and need to wear a mask when the temperature is under 40 degrees. However, in spite of that, training has been going very well.”

There haven’t been many days when the thermometer came even close to hitting 40 making this an extremely challenging time for all those training.

“Running for this special group has given me a specific way to give back to the place where I started running for the Beverly High School cross country team many years ago,” said Tabbut, a member of the Wicked Running Club. “Bostonians opened their arms to us last year when we really needed help. I am thrilled to be able to return and thank them in person.”

The Franklin Park Coalition is an official Boston Marathon charity with around 24 runners including five from the North Shore. Sharie Hewson, a former Wicked Running Club president, is from Beverly while team captain Julie Arrison lives in Salem, and Jason Carraro is a Danvers resident. Mike Toomey of Marblehead, who is taking a year’s leave of absence from coaching the Magicians girls track team, is coaching the group.

To date the FPC team has raised over 1,500 dollars, and donors can help out at several different levels. Franklin Park is near and dear to every distance runner, who grew up in the Boston area and raced on the course. Toomey enjoyed great success there not only in high school but also at UMass Lowell in the 1991 New England Championship.

Franklin Park is also an historic landmark, and the goal of the marathon team is to help park management restore and preserve this gem in the heart of the city. Future plans include bringing back the Elma Lewis Playhouse in the Park for free summer concerts as well as improve public safety and beautify the area. Donations will help provide uniforms and garden equipment for the Youth Conservation Crew.

Last year Tabbut was on the bus to Hopkinton with several of his Wicked Running Club teammates, who talked about running the marathon for the FPC.

“I have fond memories of Franklin Park where I was sixth in the JV division of the Catholic Memorial Invitational in 1976,” he said. “I was a volunteer when Lynn Jennings win the World Cross Country Championship title on her home turf in 1992, and I ran there for a team in the 1996 USATF Masters Championships.”

For Hewson this will be her third straight Boston Marathon. Back in 2012 she endured record breaking heat, ran through an injury last year, and is hoping for a strong finish this time. Carraro has been raising funds for Franklin Park for the last three years.

This will be a special race for each and every marathoner, and all the charities they run for are the real winners. Tabbut will never forget 2013, but after much deliberation knew he had to return for one more race to thank all the heroes, ordinary people, who rushed to help the injured.

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Repertoire Fitness at Danvers Indoor Sports is hosting the Beasts of the Northeast Throwdown 2014 team fitness challenge event on Saturday, April 19 from 10-2 p.m. Male, female, or co-ed teams of two will vie to be the best in their category, and athletes of all levels are welcome to participate in this unique event. B&S Fitness is also a sponsor.

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Sean Stellato has booked the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem on July 11 (6-11 p.m.) for a gala red carpet event to celebrate the publication of his book called “No Backing Down”. The book which Stellato began writing six years ago, is all about the teachers strike in Salem back in 1994 when SHS football coach Ken Perrone and his staff defied orders to stop coaching the team that was vying for the league championship and an invitation to the Super Bowl. Perrone’s loyalty was to the team, and when Salem defeated Swampscott to earn a berth there were 10,000 cheering fans on hand. The Witches went on to the Super Bowl, and later Perrone and his coaches were fired.

Stellato, an NFL player agent will have several pro football stars on hand for the celebration along with other celebrities. He did a lot of research and met with his former teammates to tell their stories personal stories in this compelling book.

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Rick Gonsalves, noted historian and author of Placekicking in the NFL, has a novel idea the league might want to consider when it gets together to vote on changes to make the game better. Gonsalves, who runs Cape Ann Kicking Academy, is a big fan of the drop kick, and thinks it should be brought back as an option. He offers the suggestion of making it worth four points which would be a challenge. He points out over 30 percent of games in the NFL the last two seasons have been won or lost by four points or less.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick had one of his recommendations approved at the league owners’ meeting in Orlando; raising the goal posts. He might want to consult kicking expert Gonsalves before next year’s meeting.

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Jean DePlacido is a part-time writer and columnist for The Salem News. Contact her at jmdeplacido@aol.com.