After Finishing for my Guinness this past Sunday, we are wasting no time in moving on to the next race. Coming up this Sunday, September 13, 2015, is the The Jeff Coombs Memorial Road Race.
Jeff Coombs was killed on American Airlines Flight 11 in the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks (the first plane, which hit the North Tower). We all knew where we were on 9/11. I was driving my 1 1/2 hour commute to work. I did not listen to Howard Stern too often, but I happened to be listening that day, when they said a plane flew into one of the towers. Then another one hit before I got to work. A coworker of ours, Carol Flyzik, happened to be on the same plane as Jeff Coombs.
But, just as Amy Stone, from last week’s race, turned a tragedy into something positive, helping the community, and memorializing her late husband in an incredible way, Christie Coombs has done the same thing. I knew I wanted to follow my Rhode Island race with another race in New England. I had gotten an email about a race in Cambridge, MA. We have a Wellness group at my place of employment. So, I asked the forums, of that group, about that race. I did not want to do it if it was too crowded. I ran a 5K in Downtown Providence last year that was way too crowded for me. Somebody said that the Cambridge race does get crowded, and suggested this Jeff Coombs race. A few other people agreed. So, I began to look into it. The more I looked into it, the more I loved it.
This is from the Jeff Coombs Memorial Foundation page:
The Jeff Coombs Foundation was formed to assist families who are in financial need because of a death, illness or other situation that challenges the family budget. It also provides emotional support to families by funding special outings and fun events. Committed to education, the foundation helps fund enrichment programs in the Abington Schools, and awards scholarships to graduating college-bound seniors and students in private high schools.
The foundation was created in response to the incredible outpouring of support Jeff’s family received after he was killed on Flight 11 in the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks. Christie, Jeff’s wife, and their kids, Matthew, Meaghan, and Julia, wanted a way to “pay it forward.” They began raising money to help others in November, 2001. Since then, the Foundation has raised and distributed about $50,000 a year in Jeff’s memory.
That is only the tip of the iceberg. Here are some of the things the foundation has funded:
- Arranged for and funded trip for terminally ill mom to visit the Ellen DeGeneres Show
- Paid for grief counseling for children who’ve lost a parent
- Funded several enrichment programs in Abington schools
- Granted more than $40,000 in scholarships to many local high school graduates
- Helped local families pay household bills after a sudden loss of a spouse/parent or due to serious illness in the family
- Contributed to 40 junior high school students’ trip to Washington, D.C.
- Sent several grieving children to a Boston Bruins game and arranged for them to meet the players
- Purchased $1000 in books for the Junior Reading Room at Burton Wales Library in Abington.
- Sent hundreds of care packages to service men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan
- Arranged and paid for the construction of wheelchair ramps to be built on several homes with wheelchair-bound children
- Helped families during the holidays who were struggling due to hardship or illness in the family
- Purchased a guitar and paid for lessons for a boy who lost his father to help him process his grief through music
- Purchased video camera for military family to communicate with father stationed in Iraq
- Assisted many local families with funeral expenses after the death of a loved one
- Host an annual holiday party for families of Massachusetts service members deployed over the holidays, and families of injured and fallen as a result of service in Iraq or Afghanistan
I am honored to be participating in the race this Sunday. Here is a write-up about the man himself, Jeff Coombs:
Jeff is best remembered as being a funny guy with a contagious smile and a goofy laugh. At 6’4”, he was easy to find in a crowd.
His greatest accomplishment and the one thing in his life that made him the most proud was being the father of his and Christie’s three children – Matthew, Meaghan and Julia. He loved spending time with them just hanging out at home playing made-up games, rollerblading through the neighborhood, watching them play sports in Abington, hiking Blue Hills, visiting Castle Island, or spending summer weekends in Pocasset on the Cape. He also enjoyed his annual river raft trip through on the Colorado River at the base of the Grand Canyon, and his annual hikes with his brothers in the New Hampshire mountains.
A native of Dedham, Massachusetts, where he grew up with his parents, three brothers and sister, Jeff attended the University of Arizona in Tucson, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Business. From there he began his career in finance and computers, working for Boston Financial Data Services, Digital Equipment Corporation, Fidelity Investments, and finally Compaq Computers. He realized the value of education, and continued studying at Suffolk University and Northeastern University while working full time. He earned an MBA at Suffolk and a Certificate in MIS and another BS from Northeastern. He told the kids, as long as someone was willing to pay for him to go to school, he would continue to learn.
Jeff believed in helping his neighbor, even when they didn’t ask for it. He once stopped on a snowy morning to shovel for an elderly woman who was struggling with her driveway. Telling Matthew to help, he used it as a teaching moment for the kids – give a helping hand whenever you can and expect nothing in return. He was a boy scout in his youth, and a Shriner, an interest he shared with his father and brothers. He had hoped to become a Shriner Clown one day. He would have been 43 on September 18, 2001.
His sense of humor and kindness are what motivate us to do the good work for the Jeff Coombs Memorial Foundation.
Come join me at this awesome event! The race starts at 9:00am tomorrow, 9/13/15 on 128 Chestnut Street, Abington, Massachusetts 02351. You can register online, or on site, at the Woodsdale School, 128 Chestnut St, Abington, today (9/12/15) from 4 – 5 pm or tomorrow (race day) from 7:30 am – 8:30 am.
If you cannot make it to the event, but would like to donate to this great cause, you can go to the Donation Page of the Jeff Coombs Memorial Foundation.
[twitter-follow screen_name=’TheRhodeRunner’ show_count=’yes’ text_color=’00ccff’]