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Last Updated: December 7, 2020

Corporate Citizen - New Bedford Community

Back in January, Fiber Optic Center, Inc. was very excited to announce our own Zane Fitzgerald, FOC Inside Sales, had committed to run the infamous Boston Marathon scheduled for April 20, 2020. As the world’s oldest annual marathon (begun in 1897) and best-known road racing event, both amateur and professional runners from all over the world were due to compete.  Zane additionally organized a fundraiser with goal to raise $10,000 for the Herren Project through his run.  Both were lofty goals but rooted in the values FOC’s corporate citizen program is built on.

Best laid plans

At the beginning of March, COVID-19 was characterized as a pandemic and life and daily practices changed dramatically.  Due to the pandemic, the Boston Marathon was postponed to September 14th by Boston Mayor Martin Walsh.  All entrants were offered a full refund of entry fees associated with April’s race but that new date became the focus for those committed and running between twelve and twenty miles each week in preparation. The final upset came on May 28th when officials decided to cancel the race and recreate it as a virtual event.

Virtual Event?  All who were originally registered for the April 20 event had the opportunity to participate in this virtual alternative. Entrants would have to complete 26.2 miles in one continuous run on any day between September 7 and 14 and submit proof of completion to the BAA (Boston Athletic Association).

 

Altruism in tough times

In addition to Zane’s personality to finish what he starts and work towards perfection, he was also driven to support this charity that had found itself in even greater need during the pandemic.

The Herren Project, a 501(c)3 non-profit foundation, supports treatment, recovery, prevention and outreach for those affected by addiction and substance use.

Times of isolation find those who misuse or abuse alcohol and/or other drugs particularly vulnerable. Social isolation causes additional stress and other COVID-19 related life changes can worsen substance use and misuse. Because chronic alcohol and drug use can weaken the immune system and put stress on the body’s cardiovascular and respiratory systems, there are also increased health risks.

 

Inspiration to keep the motion

During the months between the Virtual Marathon announcement and the actual date to run, Zane experienced his full time job being moved to remote, children’s schooling moving to remote, isolation, changes in his industry and a foot injury.  He also choose the consistent perspective that many others had greater needs and bigger challenges than his and kept moving forward.  For that, we are proud of such character on our team.

In August, the Herren Project launched a first-of-its-kind addiction recovery program with Boston-based Commodore Builders offering free services to all Commodore employees and subcontracted workers/tradespeople.  The construction industry has been impacted by addiction that often results from legitimate doctor prescriptions for injuries sustained on the job.

The opioid epidemic was beginning to gain awareness in the last few years before being overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic coverage.   Difficulties for those seeking guidance and treatment for substance abuse issues during widespread shutdowns and social distancing measures have resulted in a surge in alcohol sales and relapses in the United States.

 

Making a difference

On Friday, September 11, 2020, Zane Fitzgerald ran the entire cape rail trail and completed his virtual Boston Marathon. His reinvented course was on Cape Cod in Massachusetts marked by some well-known towns and places.  Zane started at the Beachcomber, a famous restaurant with great history located in the dunes on Cahoon Hollow Beach on the Atlantic Ocean in Wellfleet, MA. From there his course picked up the Cape Cod Rail Trail at the beginning, running along the Cape Cod National Seashore and ending in Yarmouth, MA.

Completing 26.2 miles in one continuous run is an amazing accomplishment but even more impressive is that the three and a half weeks prior, he had only been able to run about four miles due to that foot injury he was suffering with.

Zane is noted as saying, referring to the foot injury, “I had real fears it would not happen. It did and honestly it went way better than expected. The 1100 miles I have logged since January showed up when I needed them”.

 

The end goal

In our socially-distanced, technology-driven world, humans are spending entire days and week without physically interacting with another person.

Zane’s fundraising goals were halted early when the state mandates and shutdowns went into effect.  Though he is still short of his goal, he remains hopeful that with the completion of this incredible goal, new inspiring ways to also complete the fundraising will arise.  He has kept his online fundraising site open for donations and plans on spreading the word about how helping each other during these trying times is a great solution for staying connected and feeling more positive and healthy.

“Putting other people’s needs before yours really connects you with those you are serving,” said Zane. “The greatest benefit of service is the chance of people continually paying it forward. One act of kindness can have a domino effect and I can only hope that this does.”

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