Hillary's Story: Marathon Runner and Mentor

Every year, with the support of John Hancock, Mass Mentoring Partnership enlists great individuals to run the Boston Marathon and raise money to support our work. All of the money they raise directly fuels our mission to create empowering youth-adult relationships. For 2017, we were fortunate to have two runners. One of the runners, Hillary Laggis, shares her story:

I grew up on a dairy farm in a small town in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom called Hardwick and attended the University of Vermont. In 2014, after graduation, I moved to Boston and began a career in development at the Inner-City Scholarship Fund (ICSF). Three years later, I am still working for the ICSF and now manage their corporate partnerships. On April 17th, I had the honor of being one of two Boston Marathon runners to represent Mass Mentoring Partnership (MMP).

I had always told myself that I wasn’t a runner and running just wasn’t for me. I was diagnosed with lupus and was told by my doctor that daily physical exercise was one of the best ways to keep arthritis in check. I started running, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I actually enjoyed it…a lot. I ran a few half marathons throughout college and set a New Year’s resolution to run a full marathon in 2015. I fulfilled that resolution in May when I completed the Vermont City Marathon in Burlington in the very town where I had discovered my love for running. After that experience, I knew I wanted to run Boston. I had previously heard of MMP as being an integral support system to DREAM, a mentoring program I was involved with during college and Big Sister of Greater Boston, the program I currently volunteer with. When I first looked through the list of available charity bibs and noticed MMP, I knew it would be a great fit.

I think the piece that is surprising to people is that mentees impact their mentors as much if not more than the other way around (2).png

My entire life, I’ve been fortunate enough to have many mentors, both official and unofficial, who guided me through tough decisions and believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. When I moved to Boston, I found Big Sister of Greater Boston and matched with my Little Sister, Arlanis. I have loved every minute of spending time with her since then. Every child needs positive adult role models—that goes without saying. I think the piece that is surprising to people is that mentees impact their mentors as much if not more than the other way around. Having the privilege of mentoring has changed my life for the better, so I’ve learned firsthand the real power of successful mentoring programs. Charity runners help raise awareness for their organizations in a big way—they get hundreds of new people to learn the name and mission of their respective charity. My friends and family members didn’t know what MMP was prior to December, but now they understand and believe in the mission. I think it does as much “friend-raising” as it does fundraising and that’s important.

Boston is an incredibly philanthropic city. People want to give back and the marathon is a great way to do that because it’s an iconic event with a very tangible end goal. It was empowering to realize that I had the ability to raise that kind of money. I am in no position financially to cut a $10K check, so it was exciting to have that same impact from many smaller donations. As is the case with the theory behind mentoring, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to achieve success without the help of others. The entire marathon process, from the training to the fundraising, requires a tremendous amount of support. If nothing else, this experience further highlighted the importance of mentoring programs in our community. There is no better feeling in the world than crossing that finish line on Boylston Street, especially with the knowledge that so many of your loved ones helped you get there.

“If I have seen further, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton


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