Barbara Damon and Joe Dunn are an inspirational team. Every year since 1979 they have manned a water station for the Boston Marathon — and that’s where they will be on April 21 along with their bunch of volunteers.
Both Damon, former field hockey and softball coach at Danvers High, and Dunn, the assistant director of fitness and recreation at Salem State, are SSU graduates. Dunn is also the Vikings’ women’s tennis coach, and for the past 18 years he has organized the university’s North Shore Fitness 5K Road Race and Wellness Fair.
“I first met Barbara in 1978 when she was executive director and I was the fitness director at the North Suburban YMCA in Woburn,” said Dunn.
“This marathon will mark 36 years for us. I bring around 20 Salem State students and Barbara comes with 40, including a lot of Danvers High softball players. We’re out in Framingham now at Mile 6, but for the first five years were at the 13.1 mile mark, the halfway point in Wellesley.”
“I’ve always believed in volunteering. It’s the way I was brought up,” continued Dunn, a Salem native and 1978 Salem State graduate.
Dunn said he ran Boston once (1990) and that was enough, but got hooked on helping other runners during the race.
“The runners really appreciate what you do,” he said. “They might need water, Gatorade or a short break with a helping hand. There are more than 15,000 runners going by you, so we’re all very busy.
“Some people drop a jacket off for us to take care of; they get to know us.”
Dunn finished up and headed for home last year not realizing the horrific events that occurred in the bombing near the finish line.
“The first thing I did when I got home was turn on the television to watch the race, but instead saw all the devastation. It was almost like 9/11 all over again,” he said. “I started texting everybody I knew that was running to see if they were OK, then started getting messages from people concerned about me. Everybody showed how much they cared on that awful day.”