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Building the Community is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

By David Boegaard

Brookline, Massachusetts is well regarded as a lovely community and rich cultural center just outside Boston. Everyone knows that Brookline is a great place to raise kids, but the people of Brookline are concerned about all their citizens, and seek out ways to foster deep community bonds. Team Brookline, the town's official Boston Marathon team, serves to bring the townspeople together, and raise money for local charities.

Team Brookline was established in 2012. Their task is to train for the Boston Marathon, but the purpose is to build community through sport and raise funds for much-needed local services. With professional coaching, a rigorous training schedule, and many donations for local charities, Team Brookline is a great success already.

If you participated in any competitive sports in high school or college, you surely recall the grueling nature of try-outs. But Team Brookline is about community, and each team-member is competing against themselves far more than they are competing against others. So the Team has an inclusive approach to membership.

Any runner can apply during the August application period each year, says Greta Teller, Team Brookline's Manager. "Our vetting process includes a thorough review of each application as it relates to the applicant's connection to the Brookline community and our partner charities, as well as their experience with fundraising and athletic fundraising events."

Once accepted, Team members get to take part in a group that pushes themselves to be the best they can. "Team Brookline is coached by a professional coach who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the program," says Teller. The Team also helps individuals develop training regimens fitting to their experience and drive, and support for long runs each Saturday morning from November through April. This practice of training together creates new friendships that criss-cross the town, and strong bonds between all participants.

Ultimately, though, the Team is not just running for themselves. The Team's charitable work benefits community members from every walk of life. "Team Brookline benefits four local charities that play an integral role in strengthening and enriching our community," says Teller. Those recipients span from the Community Mental Health Center to the Brookline Library Foundation, to two charities that work to advance education.

It is clear from their successes that Team Brookline applies the marathon runner's dedication and intensity to their fund-raising efforts, as well. "Over the past three years Team Brookline runners have raised $650,000," notes Teller with apparent pride. And that pride is well deserved, as this is an astonishing sum for a recently formed group of runners to be able to raise, and has provided impressive opportunities for the institutions they support.

"Training for a marathon is a physical, emotional and mental challenge made easier with teammates undergoing similar experiences," says Teller. "Team Brookline believes that building a supportive sense of TEAM is paramount to individual success and a memorable experience for each runner." For community members who wish to practice the sort of intensity that marathon running cultivates, there is no better way to train than as a part of a team such as Team Brookline. And the Team's charity work means that the community benefits that the runners develop doesn't end with the Team, but stretches out to encompass the entire community.

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