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Team Owen: 200+ Runners, $20,000+ Raised, Impact Immeasurable

March 22, 2012 by Victoria Strong
Team Owen: 200+ Runners, $20,000+ Raised, Impact Immeasurable

The New Bedford Half Marathon just took place on Sunday, March 18th in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Every year thousands of runners gather to take on the hills (and often bitter cold) and take in the rocky New England coastline. And for the second year in a row Team Owen made a massive presence and helped change the future of Spinal Muscular Atrophy. 

This year Team Owen was over 200 runners strong with two hundred more in the crowd wearing this year's blue Team Owen shirts. For many the NB Half has now become an annual commitment because of their love for the inspiring Simmons family and their son, Owen, who was taken far too soon by SMA. For others this was their very first race with many signing on simply to help the SMA cause in Owen's honor. And, of course, since the team is co-organized by ultra-marathon runner, Stephen Taylor, there were several seasoned endurance runners in the mix too -- including a barefoot runner (yes, barefoot as in no shoes). Experience was not the focus however. How well each person ran seemed to come second. What shines the most is the feeling that day -- the incredibly positive, uplifting, making a difference feeling that because of Team Owen permeated the entire event! Those who experienced it firsthand put it best: 

From team organizer Stephen: 

Last year was special, especially being the first Team Owen run and Heather's first half-marathon. But this day was something else. It was a record race day with over 1000 more runners the race had ever had before. The weather was perfect and the crowds were enormous. And the one constant throughout the whole time was "Go Team Owen Go!" Without a doubt, Team Owen was the star of the day. I slowed down during the race just to take the crowds in and just enjoy the day, blowing kisses to everybody, slapping high fives to all the kids. I honestly had running conversations throughout the whole race about Team Owen and SMA: "What is SMA?", "Why are you are running?", "You guys are freaking awesome!", "How can I join next year?".  I want to thank everybody from the bottom of my heart for your unwavering support. I still cant believe the outpouring of support that we received as we ran through the streets of New Bedford, kicking SMA's ass up and down those streets. I hope everybody enjoyed themselves and felt the power of Team Owen.

From team member Drew:

I have never felt more honored in my entire life to be part of something so great. To see people cheering "Team Owen" to us and giving us the strength to succeed is something that is truly inspiring. To Heather, Stephen, and everyone else, I want to say thank you.

From team member Marjorie:

I was so honored to run for Team Owen today. The crowds cheering us on were incredible. I ran by the fire station on Rockdale just as they were releasing blue and white balloons in the air. My heart stopped for a minute and I remembered to kick it a little harder and give it a little more than I thought I had because of all those who we run for. 

From team member Marci:

I honestly lost count of the amount of people who asked me what SMA was today...so honored to run in Owen's name and more than thrilled to educate & spread the word about SMA. Great job out there today & thank you for all you amazing supporters!!!

It has been two years since Heather and Andy lost their beautiful son and they haven't stopped fighting. What the Simmons family and Team Owen has accomplished in that time is remarkable. They have raised thousands and thousands of dollars and have inspired an entire community to not just learn about this brutal disease but to get involved -- all while coping with their own grief.

From Heather:

As the 1/2 marathon gets closer I am finding myself a little emotional about everything that this day symbolizes. Owen was the most loving, funny, bright little boy. His smile would light up the room and everyone who met him instantly fell in love. My husband and I had no idea that we were carriers of the terrible disease that would take our little boy from us when he was only 23 months old. The day that my beautiful little boy took his last breath in my arms was the worst day of my life. After losing Owen we went through so many emotions, sadness, anger, grief. You think that you are a parent to protect your child and keep them safe. Knowing that we could do nothing to save him from SMA was the most helpless emotion you can imagine. Running helped me get through many of these difficult times and has allowed me to feel closer to my sweet angel. 

This Sunday was one of those days that will never be forgotten! The group picture was the one time that I really got emotional over the amazing thing we call Team Owen. The amount of blue shirts running and out on the course was incredible! Thank you to each and every one of you for helping keep our son's memory alive! We are so grateful! Can't wait to get a grand total of how much we raised for GSF!!


And the grand total....$21,000!!! And amazingly they aren't finished yet. Incredible!!! Thank you Team Owen! Thank you for honoring sweet Owen's memory and rallying beside the Simmons family. Thank you for taking on the SMA cause. Thank you for talking about SMA and getting new people involved. Thank you for representing the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation and what we do with such pride. And thank you for raising funding so we can fulfill our mission to end SMA. You have made a difference! 

 

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