College Students Organize Fundraisers, Runs To Help After Boston Marathon Explosions

04/17/2013 04:54 pm ET | Updated Apr 17, 2013
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Monday was the first time Boston College sophomore Corey Leonardi ever participated in a marathon. In previous years, Leonardi, who grew up about 50 minutes west of Boston, usually spent Patriot's Day grilling or watching the marathon with his family in Framingham, Mass., a quarter of the way into the route.

"Patriot's Day to me is similar to the Fourth of July," Leonardi told The Huffington Post. "We celebrate with family and friends, usually in good weather, in honor and pride of our state and country."

Leonardi ran the Boston Marathon with a group of BC students raising funds for the Campus School, an institution for students with special needs. Leonardi said he was close to the final stretch of his run when the explosions happened, but wasn't harmed. Two days after the bombings, the mood on campus is somber, Leonardi said, but there's something that is helping: the outpouring of support from students around the Boston area, and indeed, around the country.

"Seeing people off campus support Boston is really comforting to all of us at BC," Leonardi said. "Knowing that we have the whole country behind us is such a great feeling and really allows you to feel the unity in the United States of America. At a college with students from all 50 states, you could really see the personal concerns coming from all across the country."

One example of local college support was Lambda Chi Alpha at Boston University. The fraternity changed the focus of a fundraising laser tag tournament scheduled this weekend, designating that money raised would now go to benefit the Mayor's Fund, which will help those affected by the bombings.

Meanwhile, far away from Boston, students at the University of Kansas started an online fundraising campaign to benefit Boston Marathon bombing victims.

Many college students are also arranging their own runs to help raise money for families in Boston who need help after the explosions.

At the University of Massachusetts-Amherst campus, students are planning a community run Thursday evening, asking people to wear blue and yellow shirts to show "unity against violence."

At Syracuse University, a group called the Remembrance Scholars is working on setting up a 5K at the end of April, with all proceeds going to the Boston First Responders Fund.

The Remembrance Scholars is a group of students dedicated to honoring the 35 Syracuse students lost in the 1988 Pan Am 103 bombing. They're considering calling the race "Keeping the P(e)ace," Stephanie Kranz, a member of the group, told HuffPost.

At the University of South Carolina, the Beta Theta Pi fraternity is holding a run on Thursday, with over 800 people saying on Facebook that they plan to attend.

Ashley Cardona, a freshman at Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I., organized a one-mile run Tuesday to show support for the city of Boston. Cardona grew up in the Boston area and said in a video produced by the university that she felt "helpless" being away from her hometown this week as events unfolded.

Some students plan to train for their own marathon in response to the attacks.

David Maly, a student at the University of Texas, said he was inspired to organize a group to run the Boston Marathon next year, even though he's never done a marathon before. So far, 14 people replied on Facebook that they would join him, he said.

"Really, I just wanted to show support for the victims of the bombing in Boston," Maly told HuffPost. "Most, and maybe all, the people that are going to try to run this with me haven't run a marathon before, so qualifying for the Boston Marathon is an ambitious goal for us that will take a lot of work."

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