Apologies in advance, but it's been a difficult week all around for everyone, obviously not just here at MCC, but throughout our state and nation as well.
While I had held off on doing this for days, and have never done it once in six years of blogging at the college, I have been asked to recount a personal story, as I was one of the thousands there at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday when the attack on our nation occurred. I, in this case, being Patrick Cook, Executive Director of Public Affairs at MCC, and an avid runner and frequent participant in the Boston Marathon.
Additionally, as we have discovered in the days since, in addition to other MCC personnel who ran in the Marathon and have their stories to relate, there have also been several direct ties involving MCC students, alumni and their extended families were impacted, some irrevocably.
This blog is an attempt to chronicle some of the MCC pieces, as well as to provide links to ways you can help our extended family. Apologies also, in advance, for the quality of the writing or the flow of information, as it is an intimately personal event, the likes of which I hope we never see again in history. Bear with me.
This year, for the first time, my 19-year-old son Andrew, a sophomore at Holy Cross, ran the Boston Marathon, taking up the role I had occupied 9 times previously. Andrew did a stunning job in his first marathon, as did several other members of our extended running group, known collectively as the E Streeters, an homage to Bruce Springsteen's travelling band. Here we are running together at mile 16.
After soldiering through 25 miles of the grueling Marathon course, Andrew came into Kenmore Square in Boston. Together, we ran up Hereford Street and onto Boylston Street, finishing up as Andrew's mom Jackie, and sister, Heather, cheered him on from in front of Lord and Taylor. Andrew crossed the finish line at 2:45. Four minutes and two seconds later, as we stood at the volunteer table collecting a water for Andrew, we heard the first blast behind us. We turned to see a plume of smoke rising from the right side of Boylston Street. As we watched, the second blast went off, further up Boylston.
Immediately, I called my wife, who had been standing directly across Boylston Street from the first blast, next to the grandstand bleachers. My wife and daughter could see the rescues taking place in front of them. They could smell sulphur, hear the screaming and see the police and volunteers running to help. I told my wife I had our son with me, confirmed she had our daughter and set up a nearby rendezvous point. I additionally called other friends and told them of the rendezvous plan. Minutes later, cell phone service was shut down in the immediate area. As frantic volunteers scattered to help, as dozens upon dozens of first responders raced past us to the scene, I wrapped Andrew's arm around my neck and continued forward. Eventually, after what seemed like an interminable eternity of about six blocks of forward movement, we reunited with our loved ones. All 13 of us who were in a two-block radius during the crisis were able to safely reunite, and eventually leave the area.
At the same time, MCC IT administrator Joseph Patuto, a marathon veteran, had been halted just past Kenmore Square, told only that bombs had gone off along the route, leaving him to worry about the fate of his loved ones who had gone to Boylston street to cheer him in. Joe is among this sea of runners.
Lisa Doucett from our grants management office is the most nimble marathoner among us, and had finished the marathon already and was able to move away from the finish line long before the emergency broke out.
Lori Mitchener from our environmental science faculty had also just crossed the finish line, and was further down Boylston Street, picking up her finisher's medal. When she heard the second blast, she immediately thought her mom, who had been sitting at the finish watching her, had just been killed. A police officer started yelling RUN RUN RUN to her. After having just run 26.2 miles, she wasn't sure how much gas she had left in the tank, but adrenaline took over, and she not only ran, she hurdled the metal barricades lining Boylston Street. She continued running for several blocks, finally reuniting with her mother on the Boston Common 45 minutes later.
But as we found out in the days that have followed, the connections to the extended MCC family have continued to play out and likely will for some time to come.
Here's what we know as of this writing:
Sydney Corcoran of Lowell is a Lowell High School senior in our dual enrollment program and is slated to join us at MCC this fall. The photo of Sydney being helped has become one of the iconic images seen from the roadside of Boylston Street.
Bomb shrapnel shredded Sydney's legs. She remains hospitalized in Boston Medical Center. Her mother, Celeste, lost both of her legs in the explosion. Sydney's brother, Tyler, is a wonderfully appreciated student here at MCC. Our Student Affairs office as well Tyler's direct faculty members, have been working with Tyler to assist him through this crisis.
In the meantime, a fund-raising page has been established to assist the Corcoran family. Details of that can be found here: http://www.gofundme.com/CelesteandSydney
A fund has also been set up for the Corcoran family at Enterprise Bank, c/o Celeste and Sydney Fund, 1120 Main St., Tewksbury, 01876.
Another former MCC student is Chelmsford victim Jeff Bauman, another of the iconic victim images seen at the finish line.
Bauman took classes on our campuses a few years ago. Jeff is said to have provided the first physical description of one of the suspects, despite his traumatic injuries.
The website set up to help Jeff is http://www.gofundme.com/BucksforBauman.
Terry Downes is MCC's Executive Director of Homeland Security. His nephew is Patrick Downes, 30, who was at the finish line cheering with his newlywed wife, Jessica, 32. The couple can be seen here:
After they were caught up in the explosions, each of them lost a leg to amputation. A fund has been set up to assist them here: http://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/ygf1/helpforpatandjess
Jennifer May Regan of Stoneham graduated last year from our nursing program last May. She is currently a registered nurse at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital. Her fiance Marc Fucarile was standing on Boylston Street, cheering runners in.
Marc is now in the intensive care unit at Massachusetts General Hospital. His right leg has been amputated and he has first, second, and third-degree burns on over half of his body. Shrapnel litters most of his body.
A fund-raising page has been set up for Marc here: http://helpmarcfucarile.com/
We expect there are other stories out there, and we hope to be able to share them with you all as we get them.
This is clearly an evolving and unprecedented time for us here at the college. Our thoughts are with the law enforcement personnel who continue to protect us as this situation has unfolded over the last few days. We know that many of our students, staff and faculty were impacted by the manhunt that played out across several communities today.
We hope that all of you are well. Please use this page to check in with us, and let us know how you're doing. Hopefully all of our people will emerge okay at the other end of this. In the meantime, stay safe.
Here's a picture taken this morning on Boylston Street, of Joe Patuto, who went there early with his fellow runners before the city was shut down. His shirt says it all.
Once again, MCC has made the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, and just in time for the college's 20th anniversary of its Service Learning program!
MCC was one of nearly 700 colleges and universities nationwide that made the cut this year. Inspired by the thousands of college students who traveled across the country to support relief efforts along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, the Corporation for National and Community Service has administered the award since 2006.
"Communities are strengthened when we call come together, and we are encouraged that these institutions and their students have made service a priority," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "Civic engagement should be a key component of every student's education experience. Through reaching out to meet the needs of their neighbors, these students are deepening their impact, strengthening our democracy and ultimately preparing themselves to be successful citizens."
College students make a significant contribution to their communities through volunteering and service, according to the most recent Volunteering and Civic in America report. In 2012, 3.1 million college students dedicated more than 118 million hours of service across the country - a contribution valued at $2.5 billion.
How does that translate to community work here at MCC? Funny you should ask, we just happen to have a few pics of our students in action to share with you!
Look for more exciting news on MCC's Service Learning program next week, when the initiative takes center stage at the college's annual advisory board dinner, featuring a special look back at two decades of communtiy service!
Nine contestants competed for the first-place prize at MCC's Got Talent, Middlesex Community College's premier talent show last night in its city campus.
The performing talent consisted of dancers, singers, guitar players and poets.
The annual event was hosted by the Middlesex Activities Crew, which also collected non-perishable food donations for entrance to the event. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Merrimack Valley Food Bank.
The top three winners were tough to choose. Judges made their decisions based on originality, star quality, talent level, audience response and overall performance.
In the end, it was Shantell Cuevas' rendition of "Falling" by Alicia Keys that took first place. Jake Liuzzo came in second place for playing a wonderful classical guitar piece. Rounding out the top three was Kelsy Duran, singing Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me."
Next stop: America's Got Talent!