Each year our Marathon Team plays a crucial role in raising much-needed funds to support TCR’s services for grieving children, teens, and families. Runners receive ongoing support from The Children’s Room in reaching their fundraising goals. Thanks to the generosity of the John Hancock Non-Profit Marathon Program, TCR was awarded 6 bibs for the 2020 Boston Marathon.  Check back soon for the announcement of our 2020 Marathon Team!

Meet our 2019 Team of Runners, who collectively raised $145,000+

We are so proud of the 2019 team of Boston Marathon runners, each of whom had a unique story full of personal connections to TCR and strong motivations for running last year:

Tom Fitzsimmons

Tom Fitzsimmons will be running in memory of his nephew, Drew Micah Smerling Marcus who died of SIDS one month after he was born. The Children’s Room has been instrumental in helping Tom’s family, especially his nieces, Ruby and Sophie, who are currently participating in multiple programs to cope with the sudden death of their brother. As a byproduct of running in memory of Drew, Tom also aspires to raise awareness about SIDS.

Tom shares, “The Children’s Room provides my nieces with a safe space to relive the memories of the short time they had with their baby brother Drew, a place to grieve, and to be around others who not only care but also understand. For adults, it provides a network of people who know our pain, sharing similar scars in their hearts and understanding the struggle of healing but not forgetting.”


Jennifer O’Brien

Jennifer O’Brien will be running in memory of her husband, Webster, and in honor of her two teenage children, Bennett and Winter. Jennifer and Webster started supporting TCR nearly a decade ago after witnessing the amazing support our services provided to close family friends. And after having Bennett survive leukemia as a young child, they could imagine all too well the devastating effects of losing a child.

Jennifer’s connection to TCR became very personal after Webster died in November 2015 and she took part in the Parenting While Grieving group in the spring of 2016. Jennifer has deepened her        commitment to TCR by joining the Board of Directors this year.

Paudie O’Connor


Paudie O’Connor will be running for a second year in memory of his son, Harry, who was eight years old when he died in the summer of 2017. Paudie, his wife, and children moved to Sudbury, MA from Ireland, three years ago. The family is currently being served in our peer support groups and by our Teen Programs.




Catherine Renehan

Catherine Renehan will be running in memory of her dad who died of cancer. Catherine has been a peer support grief facilitator at The Children’s Room and at a similar center in Philadelphia for over 13 years and has seen firsthand the support happening at The Children’s Room and how valuable it is.

Catherine shares, “I’m a firm believer that the work that happens at The Children’s Room, providing a platform and community to talk about death and loss helps save lives. I am blown away by the programming offered by The Children’s Room, and I want to run to raise funds and awareness.”

John Shea

John Shea will be running the marathon for the fourth year in a row, in memory of his wife, Diane, and in honor of his two daughters, Maeve and Luisa. John’s relationship with TCR began in 2013, when Diane died of cancer. John, Maeve, and Luisa participated in our peer support groups.

John mentioned in his interview this year that marathon weekend is the new favorite holiday in the Shea household because of the memories, excitement, and community it brings.



Chris Watson

Chris Watson will be running his first Boston Marathon for The Children’s Room in memory of his mom and close friends who have died. He has been a volunteer at The Children’s Room for 10 years and has witnessed firsthand the power of the peer support model and the profound impact it has on grieving families. Chris’ experience has been transformative in his own grief journey.





Larissa Nekhlyudov

We would like to thank Larissa Nekhlyudov who will be fundraising on behalf of The Children’s Room for the marathon in memory of her mom. Larissa received a bib through her hometown of Newton.

Larissa shares, “My mother died suddenly when I was 14 years of age.  I was a teenage Russian immigrant, living in Brooklyn, NY, in the early 1980s. Clearly, there was little support offered within our family unit and no resources outside.  My grieving was solitary and healing spanning decades. This past year, I visited The Children’s Room and walked away immensely impressed by their dedication, ongoing efforts, and the impact they have on the lives of children and adults who have experienced a loss of loved one.”


About Our Team

Thanks to the generosity of the John Hancock Non-Profit Marathon Program, this is the ninth year that TCR has received bib numbers for the Boston Marathon. Over the past nine years, our marathon teams have raised over $800,000 to support The Children’s Room. Runners receive ongoing support from The Children’s Room in reaching their fundraising goals, and during their training, the team will be coached, for the fourth year in a row, by Crissy Straub and Malinda Dublin of MC Coaching.

To support our Boston Marathon team, please click here to visit our page on Crowdrise.