MITSU YASUKAWA/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
After seven consecutive days and 235 miles of running in unpredictable weather, through minor injuries and over state lines, Larry Grogin of Franklin Lakes has made it to the starting line.
"I can honestly say I'm feeling better today than I did on Sunday, when we started," Grogin said of his run from Franklin Lakes starting on April 13 to Boston to participate in the Boston Marathon, a year after the event was hit by a terror attack.
When the bombings kept him from finishing the marathon last year, Grogin vowed not only to return but to make a difference. He made his trek both to support Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang Camp charity for children with serious illnesses and in honor of those affected by last year's violence.
Now in Hopkinton, Mass., where the marathon is set to begin today, Grogin says the only reason he got through his weeklong ordeal was because of the children he's supporting. "The kids have been my wings," Grogin said.
It wasn't easy. Accompanied by his running partner, John Renaldo of Wayne, Grogin ran 32 miles over a seven-hour period each day, sometimes through extreme weather conditions.
"We've had showers, freezing cold temperatures, solid rain at one point, and 80-degree weather," Grogin said. "This is supposedly spring, but we've experienced everything but — winter, summer, fall but no spring."
He also credited the pair's support team, including his wife, Cheryl, for accompanying them the whole way and offering encouragement.
"Every day they are sitting in a car for seven hours, in the same weather and conditions, just being there to provide us water, towels and vitamins day after day," Grogin said. "An incredible support team. What's pushing us through is knowing that with these donations, somebody will be able to go to camp instead of a hospital."
Renaldo met Grogin in November and the two became close friends who have leaned on each other throughout this entire process.
"Grogin told me about the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp after my first marathon, and having a cousin whose child passed due to cancer, I take this personally," Renaldo said. "It's been an incredible experience."
Grogin has raised $100,000, since his voyage began. And to mark the accomplishment, Grogin and Renaldo presented a check for that amount to Ray Shedd, the senior development officer at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, on Saturday.
Donations are still being accepted at Crowdrise.com/larrygrogin or holeinthewallgang.org.
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