Perkins’ Boston Marathon team crosses the finish line

Five extraordinary people ran the Boston Marathon to raise money for Perkins and blindness education

Support for the Perkins marathon team went a long way to inspiring runners to keep going. Credit: Anna Miller

It takes a special person to run 26.2 miles for someone else.

On April 20, five special individuals did just that, running the Boston Marathon® as the charity team for Perkins School for the Blind. They raised over $28,000 to fund blindness education programs for children in local communities and around the world.

For Samantha Eaton of Reading, Massachusetts, it was her first-ever Boston Marathon. She ran for her friend Tom’s daughter Ali, a former Perkins student.

“It was the hardest yet most rewarding experience ever,” she said. “It was the biggest challenge I’ve ever tackled but I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’m so happy I was able to support such an awesome school!”

Mike Pascento, a principal at the Sherman School in Connecticut, ran for Jack, a former student of his who is visually impaired. An avid runner with several marathons under his belt, Pascento worked with Jack before the race to raise funds for Perkins.

“I was excited to see Jack and his mom at mile 19,” he said. “It made the day for me that they were able to take part in it.”

At mile 24, Pascento realized he would just miss his goal of finishing the race in under four hours. But before disappointment could set in, he turned onto Boylston Street and remembered the bombings two years ago.

“I actually became very emotional,” he said. “I stopped running and just soaked in the atmosphere, then finished off the last two-tenths of a mile. I know I will never forget that moment. It was honestly more than I expected.”

Kelsey Varzeas, a senior at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, said the experience of running the marathon was “magical.”  She joined the Perkins team because of her commitment to helping people with disabilities. Last summer Varzeas worked with adults with disabilities, and after graduation she hopes to become a sport psychologist for Special Olympians and Paralympians.

“To have the opportunity to run for a wonderful cause made the day ideal,” she said. “I kept telling myself to take each mile one at a time and to enjoy each and every step, even the painful ones! If you asked me again to run for Perkins in the future, I would do it in a heartbeat.” 

Two other runners rounded out the Perkins team. Sabrina Bluestone of Yorktown Heights, New York, ran for her son Zachary, a student in Perkins’ Deafblind Program. Waltham, Massachusetts, resident Lee Vollemans ran to honor her family’s legacy with Perkins, since her mother, grandmother and Volleman herself all worked at the school.

Perkins Events Specialist Natalie Matisis thanked the team for running 26.2 miles on a wet, windy day for a good cause.

“This year’s Marathon team has done a fantastic job, both raising funds for Perkins’ programs and raising awareness of blindness education,” she said. “We’re incredibly lucky to have such a dedicated group of runners.” 

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