TOUCHING HOME BASE: Runners, including servicemen and servicewomen, participate in the Run to Home Base. Slavin, below, addresses guests at the event.
Running across home plate at historic Fenway Park while being cheered on by family, friends, Red Sox players, and MGH and military leaders is not something most people experience. But on May 22, enthusiastic runners experienced just that at the end of a 9-kilometer run held to support the Red Sox Foundation and MGH Home Base Program.
The Run to Home Base, presented by New Balance and now in its second year, drew more than 2,000 runners, including
some 300 active duty military men and women, who raced the distance stretching around the park and through the surrounding neighborhood. An estimated $2.6 million was raised to support the Home Base Program, which provides clinical care and support services to veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan affected by combat stress or traumatic brain injury (TBI). The program also provides counseling to families and community education about "the invisible wounds of war" and conducts research into the understanding and treatment of combat stress and TBI.
During opening ceremonies, runners and their supporters gathered inside Fenway Park, where First Lady Michelle Obama, honorary director of the Home Base Program, was shown on video thanking participants for their support of Home Base. Special guests at the event included Peter L. Slavin, MD, MGH president; John Henry, Red Sox principal owner, and his wife, Linda Pizzuti Henry; Tom Werner, Red Sox and Red Sox Foundation chairman; Larry Lucchino, Red Sox president and CEO; U.S. Sen. Scott Brown; Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army; Lt. Gen. John Kelly, senior military assistant to the Secretary of Defense; and Rob DeMartini, New Balance president and CEO.
"The caregivers and staff of the MGH and the Home Base Program are honored to provide care and support services to our military service members, veterans and families," says Slavin. "Home Base builds on the hospital's 200-year tradition of leadership in clinical care and commitment to improving the health of our entire community."
As part of the Run to Home Base, New England service members currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan held "shadow runs" in solidarity with their fellow service members running stateside. Photos of their runs, which took place earlier that day in Iraq and Afghanistan, were shown on video screens as runners entered the ballpark.
For more information about the event, access www.runtohomebase.org.