One year ago today, our nation was rocked by tragedy at the 2013 Boston Marathon. As a country still healing from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting just a few painful months prior, we were shocked when two pressure-cooker bombs went off near the finish line, killing a few innocent runners and injuring hundreds more. For these injured runners, each day is another reminder of the emotional and physical scars they will forever hold from that day.
No one knows this more than my
good friend, Karan Kashyap, who kindly agreed to take us through his personal
view of a healing process that is far from finished. As freshmen at MIT,
Karan and two friends started an organization called Mikey’s Run to help those who became amputees
as a result of the tragic event. Over the past year, they have raised almost a
quarter of a million dollars to support these amputees, and more importantly, bring
hope to countless people. Here's Karan's story:
The day before the bombings, I had been at MIT for Campus
Preview Weekend. After receiving my admission to MIT, I joined hundreds of
other high school seniors on campus as we explored our home-to-be for the next
four years. That’s when I first met Corey Walsh and Harris Stolzenberg, who
would become my Mikey’s Run co-founders.
At the time, we were completely oblivious to what fate had in store. Nobody expected the bombings to happen, and we had no idea how that event would bring the three of us together to do something impactful.
On the night of April 14, I left Boston and
headed back to my home in Dallas, ready to resume classes the following day.
Just hours later, on Monday morning, I heard what had happened at the marathon.
The MIT Class of 2017 Facebook group went crazy with posts. People were linking
others to news stories, providing their own opinions, and suggesting some
course of action for us to make a difference.
Harris Stolzenberg had a unique story. His younger brother, Mikey, was a quadruple amputee. In 2008, Mikey lost his arms and legs due to a bacterial infection but bounced back, amazingly, continuing to play lacrosse and football. He had already fought through many of the struggles that Boston Marathon victims would have to face. Mikey could inspire others in a very unique way, and he became the inspiration for Mikey’s Run (as you can tell by the name).
Corey and I helped Harris refine his vision. Together, we designed a website in two days, using a template, and reached out to other nonprofits for guidance. We decided to partner with the Scott Rigsby Foundation, another charity working to raise money for amputees. The original goal was to raise money to help people affected by the bombings. The three of us, come August, would be MIT students and Boston residents, so we thought it would be nice to do something for our future community. Raise a few thousand dollars? How about $50,000? Let’s shoot for double that! After discussing, we finally agreed to aim for $1 million. It was a hefty goal, but one that would challenge us. Even if we couldn’t reach it by 2014’s marathon, we’d have a target to keep working towards.
Within the first week, we raised $20,000 and were featured on CNN, Huffington Post, ABC and other news media. Our main strategy at the beginning was just utilizing social media. The following week, we received a check for $26,000 from a philanthropist. We were then featured on CNBC and received a $15,000 boost in donations thanks to airtime. Our donation total climbed to almost six figures within the first six weeks. Then a prominent media mogul, who had heard about our cause, mentioned Mikey’s Run in the Harvard Class of 2013 Commencement Speech. She followed this up with a donation of $100,000! She said she was very proud of our hard work, and word of her donation brought us even more media attention and donations. The viral news caused by her donation led to more TV and news appearances, including the featuring of Mikey’s Run on The TODAY Show in August.
Now, we’re at well over $200,000, just over a fifth of the way to our goal. But this is only the beginning. I learned that by simply finding a meaningful cause and wholeheartedly pursuing success, anyone has the ability to make a difference in this world! Sometimes it can seem like you’re not capable of making an impact, but the truth is you don’t really know if you’re capable or not until you just stand up and try. Things may not always work out, but when they do it’s really awesome…there’s nothing more rewarding than knowing that your efforts have contributed to an impactful cause.
It has been a year since the bombing and since my journey started with the project. I’ll admit that things have changed quite a bit. MIT is tough, and the amount of time the team has been able to put into the nonprofit has decreased a bit. Nonetheless, we’re excited for the 2014 Boston Marathon in just a few days. On Patriot’s Day, we look forward to the resurgence in spirit and a larger turnout than ever before. Mikey’s Run has been able to touch the lives of many individuals thus far, and I'm thankful to be a part of the continuing effort to help those who were impacted. I hope we can keep raising money and making a difference in this great community. I’m confident that one day we can surpass that lofty million-dollar goal.
Jared Kleinert is the 18 year old co-founder and co-author of 2 Billion Under 20, a community of Millennials redefining success, breaking down barriers, and changing the world. Find out more about their upcoming, eye-opening book at www.2billionunder20.com.