2.4 min readBy Published On: March 15th, 2016Categories: Features0 Comments on Run Orla Run!

Orla’s Run for the Ollie

“The Ollie has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, so the opportunity to run the Boston Marathon while raising money for them was a no-brainer for me,” said South Boston native Orla O’Brien.

The South Boston Neighborhood House (known as “The Ollie” after founder Olivia James) is the oldest continuously-operated community based non-profit in South Boston, now in its 115th year.

“The Ollie is part of my family. My mom (Mary Fiske) started teaching there in the late 1980s and is now the Director of Development.  I was a part of the teen program in the late 90’s. More recently, I’ve met some of my best friends as a member of the planning committee for their annual event.”

The April 18th race is the 120th Boston Marathon, and Orla’s first.  “Running for me is a unique experience, and the marathon has been on my bucket list for a long time. There are so many great causes tied to the Boston Marathon charity program. The runners and organizers are so passionate, it’s hard NOT to be motivated.”

Orla and received her bib number through the John Hancock Marathon Non-Profit Program, which also featured her story on their Extra Mile blog. There are 9 members of the 2016 South Boston Neighborhood House marathon team, and they all train and fundraise with other non-profit runners under the guidance of CharityTeams.

“I’ve lived in South Boston my whole life. While some of the changes  with new developments and restaurants are wonderful, income equality is a huge problem in our neighborhood, particularly for families. Forty-four percent of South Boston residents under the age of 18 are living in poverty. The programs at The Ollie serve everyone – and they are crucial to children and elders who are faced daily with challenges like food and housing insecurity.”  

Orla “hill trains” in Newton on Tuesday nights and then does long runs on Saturdays, followed by brunch, with about 50 other runners.

“There’s a lot of time to think on those runs,” she said. “It reminds me that I am so fortunate – what are a few sore muscles and blisters if I can make a difference for my neighbors? I’m training with people running on teams like MR8 (the Martin Richard Foundation) and Mass Fallen Heroes, all passionate about their worthy causes. I’m meeting lots of new people and we’re all part of something bigger than ourselves. That’s truly rewarding.”

Orla has already surpassed the required $5K in fundraising, and is aiming for $10K.

Fundraising Link:  https://www.crowdrise.com/SBNHBoston2016/fundraiser/orlaobrien

Next Fundraising Event – March 23 at The Handle Bar: http://bit.ly/southierides

“The House Is Where The Heart Is” – SBNH Annual Gala, April 8: http://bit.ly/ollieauction

Image: Tamara Kohno Photography

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