After the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15th, many of us wanted to do something to help those affected. These are the stories of those in and around Fenway Park who responded to that call.
The months of April and May have been a time of healing for the entire state of Massachusetts in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. The Boston Red Sox brought joy back to the city on April 20th with David Ortiz declaring, “This is our [expletive] city,” and walking away with a win against the Kansas City Royals. Red Sox Nation, and its associated businesses, did more than just bring smiles to a sad city; they began raising funds for the victims through generous donations. T-shirts were sold, fundraisers organized, and all proceeds went to the victims.
Thankfully, Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Thomas Menino acted quickly after the attacks so the money that businesses and individuals raised would go to one centralized place. The One Fund Boston was born. The One Fund Boston’s mission was simple: “to assist those families of the victims who were killed and the victims who were most seriously affected as a result of the tragic events during the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 and related events on April 18th and April 19th.” Money would be provided to those who were maimed, lost limbs, or needed to cover any costs associated with the attacks. Anyone who may have been hurt while standing on the finish line on April 15th could register on the website for financial support.
As soon as Chris Wren, owner of Sully’s Brand, heard about The One Fund Boston he knew he could help them raise money. Sully’s Brand typically sells T-shirts with off-the-wall slogans on them. These shirts showcase how Bostonians feel about their city, its ball players, and rival sports teams from around the country. Some T-shirts read, “Keep Calm and Bergeron,” or “MVPedroia,” or even, “Yankees Suck.” The latter was the slogan that launched the company. Originally printed on a bumper sticker, it was the genesis of what would become a hallmark of Sully’s Brand.
After the Marathon attacks, Wren felt the sarcastic and the silly had to be put aside. He was “disheartened to see this long-standing Boston tradition” tarnished and quickly worked on trying “to come up with ways to help out.” Days after the bombing, T-shirts that read, “Believe in Boston,” were born. Each shirt bore a yellow and blue ribbon in the center, the colors associated with the Boston Marathon. Sully’s Brand sold them for $20 each with all of the proceeds donated to The One Fund Boston. The company raised well over $50,000 in T-shirts for The One Fund Boston in the weeks following the bombing. Many of Wren’s employees worked overtime to package and ship “a month’s worth of orders” in a week. More orders go out each day, and more products besides the T-shirts with the “Believe in Boston” slogan are available at http://www.sullysbrand.com. You can also purchase Sully’s Brand products around Fenway Park and in Newbury Comics.
On Saturday, April 20th, Sully’s Brand partnered with Yawkey Way Report to give Red Sox fans green pennants that read, “Believe in Boston.” The pennants were given away with a purchase of this magazine and could be seen all over Fenway Park the day after the second bomber was brought to justice. They also could be seen at the Boston Marathon memorial site on Boylston Street in the days that followed.
There was even more action at Fenway to raise money for The One Fund Boston on May 15th, when celebrity chefs took to the field with the help of the Red Sox organization to host Boston Bites Back. The event was a $200-a-plate fundraiser allowing participants to taste small plates created by many of the city’s top chefs. All proceeds from the tickets sold and the items auctioned went to The One Fund Boston. Celebrity chefs Ken Orringer and Ming Tsai spearheaded the event, which was also endorsed by Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Thomas Menino.
Kevin O’Donnell, owner and head chef of The Salty Pig, took part in Boston Bites Back. Though “new to the Boston area,” the Providence native had shared his talents before to help raise money for local organizations. In April, he helped the Boston Center for Adult Education develop a scholarship fund for students in need. The Center offers classes, workshops, and events in a warm, informal setting.
O’Donnell had held a fundraiser for the bombing victims at his own restaurant, but wanted to be involved in this larger event. He had heard about Boston Bites Back through social media outlets, including Twitter, and from his mentor Mario Batali, of Food Network fame. O’Donnell felt the event would be a great way to network with other chefs and work as a team to deliver great food for a great cause. The dish he prepared was a mix of cheeses with fresh seasonal vegetables. He also pickled some strawberries to help cleanse the palate. O’Donnell said he was “very much looking forward to being in the park and cooking on the field.”
It is great to see the city come together in a strong way for The One Fund Boston and for those whose lives were forever changed on that fateful day. The money will pay for medical bills accrued by Heather Abbott of Newport, RI, Paul and J.P. Norden of Stoneham, MA, and Jeff Bauman of Chelmsford, MA, who were all there to celebrate a beautiful day in this historic “City on a Hill.” Though we certainly will never be the same, we are determined to try because we are Boston Strong.