Rocky Auletto ran the Boston Marathon for the first time in 1997. “That was the year of the April Fools Day Snow Storm, so there was snow all over the course!” she said. Despite the rough conditions, the Boston Marathon experience captured her heart. The following year, she began volunteering at the Marathon with the encouragement from several of her cardiologist friends at Beth Israel Hospital, where she worked at the time as a nurse practitioner. Since then, she has held several medical volunteer positions, including her favorite as part of the Sweep Team.
Her first assignment was in the medical tent at the finish. At the time, it was her first “mass casualty” experience, as she put it. That was before Rocky was a Major in the Air Force, where she has been exposed to casualties in entirely different setting. Now, when she volunteers at the finish line, she said she feels “much more equipped” than before her military training. After being deployed to Bahrain in the Persian Gulf, she says she has much more experience handling such large quantities of patients.
Even while deployed, Rocky said she still felt like part of the Sweep Team. The team leader and coordinator, Michelle Kanavos, stayed in contact with Rocky through email and care packages. “ I still felt like an integral part of the team even though I wasn’t in Boston,” she said.
Rocky is now stationed at the Maguire Air Force Base in New Jersey, but she comes up north each year to volunteer in her favorite city. “I’ve done hundreds of races worldwide, but I talk Boston up to everyone,” she said. “To me, there’s nothing like it.” She is dedicated to the runners, especially those in need. She remembers one runner who was in a tough shape after he finished. When he refused to go to the medical tent, Rocky followed him for almost half a mile a to make sure he was okay and bring him back to the medical tent. When her brother-in-law ran a few years ago, Rocky was thrilled that she was able to meet him at the finish. “I didn’t think that there was any chance I would see him.”
For Rocky, the experience she has each year is what brings her back. She loves the camaraderie between the volunteers and the people she is privileged to meet.
“I’ve had people ask to take a picture with me. It is gratefulness that you don’t expect, so it takes me by surprise,” she said. When runners hug and thank her, she replies, “You’re the heroes. You’re why I’m here.”
This year, Rocky will be back on the Sweep Team at the finish line.
Rich and Chris Chesmore
Rich Chesmore and his wife Chris both grew up watching the Boston Marathon in Framingham, MA where the two lived within walking distance of each other. Chris remembers walking down the street with her grandmother to watch the runners go by. At the time, there were approximately 15 to 20 runners in the Marathon. “It has been great to see it progress,” she said.
Rich and Chris have been married for forty-four years and the Boston Marathon has been a part of their life together. When their daughter was a baby, they took her on her first carriage ride to watch the runners go by on Marathon Monday. At this time, Rich was only a marathon spectator. Watching for all those years, however, inspired Rich to start running. He joined the Greater Framingham Track Club and from then on he was hooked.
Rich has run more than 30 marathons all over the area including the scenic Newport Marathon. Out of them all, Rich says without hesitation that the Boston Marathon is his favorite. “It is the best marathon in the world,” he said. Rich has run the Boston Marathon seven times and Chris has always been there to cheer him on.
The two began as Boston Marathon volunteers in 1986 working as clock monitors on the course. Chris laughed as she recalls a funny memory from one of their earlier volunteer years. She and Rich drove down the marathon route to collect the clocks. “People thought that our big orange van wasn’t an official race vehicle. People hollered at us, but we were just doing our job,” she said.
Rich and Chris agree that their favorite volunteer job is working at the water stop at the 3.1-mile mark. They started working at that stop twenty years ago. At the time, Rich was the cross-country coach at Framingham State University, so he recruited his team to help distribute water. Since then, Rich and Chris have led the stop by bringing family, friends and fellow runners to help them. Rich was in charge of their team and making sure that all their paperwork was in on time. “It would be Christmas and Rich would already bring up April to our family and friends,” said Chris.
In recent years, Chris has taken a larger role with their team. Nine years ago, Rich was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. “I’m more organized,” she joked. Rich, however, said he “still runs the show.” In spite of Rich’s physical limitations, he and Chris are still out there on Marathon Monday at what has now been dubbed “Rich’s Water Stop.” They are both proud to serve the runners and their commitment truly epitomizes what is means to be Boston Marathon volunteers.
For the past 16 years, Ann Everett has been at the very front of the mile 20 hydration station encouraging runners as they start the climb up the infamous Heartbreak Hill. She first volunteered for the Boston Marathon in 1996 with her husband and friends from her running club, the Messiah Milers. Ann said, “It has become a tradition, who knew? We run together and we volunteer together.” She returns each year with sixty people from the Messiah Milers. “We own that stop,” she said, “It’s a no-brainer. April in my life involves volunteering.”
Ann and the rest of the Messiah Miler’s take their responsibility as volunteers very seriously. “We need to make sure all the little things get done, like lining up enough cups for water and Gatorade,” she said. Ann is proud to say that her team is highly acclaimed by local businesses for how well they clean up after the Boston Marathon. One year, the deli across the street brought them all free sausages as a thank you. “We have a job to do, and we do it,” Ann says.
She keeps coming back to work at mile 20 because she knows every year she will come out with a truly impactful story. “You are crying with the runners one minute, then laughing the other,” she said.
Ann has run the Boston Marathon three times, so she understands what runners are going through at mile 20. She is dedicated to the runners because she truly respects them and their hard work. Her goal is to keep the runners going, even if it means walking with them far beyond her water stop. She looks for “those who are struggling and need support.”
When runners approach the mile 20-water stop, the first face they see is Ann’s. She has claimed that spot as her own.
One year, Ann saw one of the elite women struggling as she passed the water stop. Ann walked with her all the way to the top of Heartbreak Hill and talked to her as she drank her cup of water. The woman didn’t say anything, but her face was distraught. Ann gave her words of encouragement and prayed with her. When Ann was about to leave her at the top of Heartbreak Hill, the woman turned to her, smiled, and mouthed “thank you,” before starting to run again. “That is all she needed to do,” Ann said. “I will never forget her face and her smile. That’s why I’m here.”
Bruce Indek is the lead chiropractor and organizer of the chiropractic section at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. At the finish in Copley Square, he can be found with his glowing flashlight from Logan Airport directing runners to the chiropractic tent situated by the old John Hancock building.
Bruce is a certified chiropractor and practices in Quincy, MA. He has worked as a chiropractor for many athletic events like the Iron Man Triathlon in Hawaii. He also traveled with the US Triathlon team in the early 1990’s.
When Bruce moved to the Boston area 29 years ago, he quickly became interested in volunteering for the Boston Marathon. He noticed that there were no chiropractors working at the finish, so, he contacted the medical team at the B.A.A. and told them he wanted to offer his skills as a chiropractor. “At the time, there were only fifteen people at the medical meeting I attended,” he said.
1985 was the first year that Bruce volunteered. He remembers how minimal the resources were at the time: “I was the only chiropractor on the medical team. We had to assemble army cots to use for the runners, and all we had to give them to eat was some bullion and Doritos.” Since then, the chiropractic team has grown to approximately twelve chiropractors that have their own separate chiropractic tent.
Bruce has watched the marathon evolve and has seen some incredible moments in marathon history. At the 100th running of the Boston Marathon, all of the medical tents moved to Boston Common to accommodate all of the runners. He remembers watching as a “sea of space blankets walked down Boylston” towards him and his team. Another year, Bruce had a nice chat with Johnny Kelley about some of Johnny’s paintings that Bruce had seen. Bruce said he will never forgot those moments.
For Bruce, above all else, it is the “kinship” he feels with the runners that keeps him coming back to volunteer. “I see the same people that come back every year, and we are friends for ten minutes each year,” he said. “If I wasn’t having fun, I wouldn’t keep coming back. The atmosphere is electric.”
He considers this race to be “a premiere athletic event” that has become a tradition for him each year. “All of my patients know that I won’t be open on Marathon Monday,” he said. “I’ll be in Boston.”
Dick Miller is coming up on his 22nd year as a Boston Marathon volunteer. He began volunteering in 1992, which he remembers because it was the same year that his daughter, Mary, was born. He said he used to think how great it would be if one day she could volunteer with him when she turned eighteen. Twenty years later, Dick is still volunteering and now just like he hoped, his daughter is by his side as a volunteer.
Dick lives in Shrewsbury, MA with his wife Moira, and their dog, Chloe. He became a volunteer when he lived in Nashua, NH. Gloria Ratti, a representative from the B.A.A., came to speak to his running club, The Gate City Striders, to encourage them all to volunteer. He applied, and was accepted as a Merchandise volunteer at the Hynes. Since then, he has worked a variety of positions at the expo and the finish line.
He has crossed the Boston Marathon finish line himself numerous times. He has run a total of sixteen marathons, six of which were in Boston. He ran his first marathon after watching Greg Meyer and Joan Benoit win the Boston Marathon in the early 1980’s, which he said really pumped him up to run. One of his most memorable running experiences was the year he ran the 100th Boston Marathon. He took pictures using a disposable camera he brought with him. “The crowds were crazy,” he said.
Out of all the volunteer jobs Dick has had over the years, he said his favorite by far is as a Bib Distributor at Registration. “You are the first to congratulate them and welcome them to Boston,” he said. It is important to him to give a big welcome and to interact with each runner he talks to. For him, it is a chance to converse with fellow runners from all over the globe:
“The look on many of their faces as I hand them their race packet is priceless as they realize the fruit of their hard work. Many of their family members capture the simple but meaningful event with a camera and I sometimes wonder how many photo albums I am in around the world.”
He said he understands why runners are so emotional when they arrive in Boston. To him, the Boston Marathon is “the ultimate.” This year, Dick will share the experience as a Boston Marathon volunteer with his daughter Mary once again. Dick said, "She will get her own volunteer jacket so she won’t steal mine!”
When asked what it means to him to work as a Boston Marathon volunteer, Dick said it is a true honor as a runner and a volunteer. “I see it as labor of love,” he said.
When runners arrive in Hopkinton on the morning of the marathon, they are greeted by the friendly and familiar voice of Peter Mundy. Peter is the “announcer guy” at Athlete’s Village who instructs the 27,000 runners on where to go and what to do before they reach the start line. “It’s my job to entertain, too,” Peter said. “I try to make it fun for the runners.”
Peter is a resident of Natick, MA, where his voice is very well known. He hosts his own show on local cable. In addition, he has been the announcer for almost all the Natick High School sporting events for over twenty years. “I am the announcer for football, basketball, hockey, and wrestling, as well for all of their banquets in town. I’m the master of ceremonies,” he said.
Peter started off as a bus greeter at Athlete’s Village for the 100th running of the Boston Marathon. He made a promise to his son that if his son could qualify for the Boston Marathon, he would volunteer to work at the start line. He says his first volunteer experience, as a bus greeter, was hectic but also very fun. He did his best to make light of the chaotic situation.
He has now become what he proudly calls “The All-Knowing Voice” for the pre-race proceedings. He tries to make the atmosphere light and easy for the runners. “Every year is a blast,” he said. He has hosted special guests at the start like American Idol contestant, Ayla Brown. One of his most memorable guests was the beloved Johnny Kelley. He remembers when Kelley walked across the Athlete’s Village stage and asked Peter for advice on what to say to the runners. Peter replied with, “Johnny, just say it from the heart.”
Peter says one of the best parts of his job as the announcer is the interaction he has with the runners. “I see a lot of people each year for a short period of time, and many of them come back next year and say hi,” he said. One year, a runner was looking for a woman named Debbie, so Peter made numerous announcements looking for “Debbie from Ohio” with no success. The following year, a runner approached Peter and asked, “Hey, did you ever find Debbie from Ohio?” Peter said he got a real kick out of that. He loves that runners keep coming back to Boston.
His excitement is truly contagious and is what pumps up the runners before they begin their 26.2-mile trip to Boston. Above all else that morning, Peter’s priority is the runners. “I’m there for them and I have fun doing it!” he said. “I hope that when they make the exodus to the start, they are ready for a good run.”
Gloria Wilkins Webster
Since 1994, Gloria Wilkins Webster has held a variety of volunteer jobs for the B.A.A. She is truly a jack-of-all-trades. Her and husband, Scott live in Roxbury, MA. They have two sons who are 25 and 17, and a daughter who is 23. Gloria works as an accounts payable specialist.
She first worked as a volunteer at the Boston Marathon with Scott and her brother, Gregory, in 1994. “Every year is a lot of fun,” she said. It has become a tradition for her family. Gregory has come up to Boston from Baltimore every year to volunteer with Gloria. “It is our chance to spend some fun time together,” she said. “He always gives me the stats and updates on the runners and makes the race more exciting.” She said that each year they have a good laugh because Gregory tricks his students with an assigned quiz on that day even though he won’t be there--he is volunteering in Boston!
The two had their first assignment for the 100th running of the Boston Marathon. Gloria helped with security at the start in Hopkinton. Her job was to make sure the runners made it into the correct corrals. She said the multitude of runners that year looked “like a corral of wild horses.” That year, as Gloria and Gregory were driving back from Hopkinton, they caught up with the elite runners as they passed over Route 16 in Wellesley. “It was so exciting to see them,” she said.
Since that year, Gloria has volunteered in Hopkinton as security, an entrance corral monitor, and as an ambassador. She has also worked at Registration at the expo in Boston. She has also been a volunteer at the B.A.A. Half Marathon since its inception in 2001. In 2011, she volunteered at the inaugural B.A.A. 10K in Boston.
For Gloria, it is easy for her to “get into the spirit of the moment” as a volunteer. She ran the Marine Corps Marathon in 2008, so she respects the training and hard work of the runners. There are some years when Gloria and her brother know someone running. She is proud to say that they have tracking runners down to a science. In 2011, Gregory encouraged a friend's daughter who was struggling around mile 15. He ran alongside her and helped her to finish.
Gloria has done it all as a volunteer, and her dedication and spirit is contagious. When asked what makes the Boston Marathon so special to her, she simply chuckled and replied, “Because it’s the best marathon out there.”
For the past 37 years, Dr. Lyle Micheli has been volunteering at the Boston Marathon finish line. He was the first physician to work as a medical volunteer for the Boston Marathon. In addition, he has worked at the B.A.A. Half Marathon since its inception in 2001.
Dr. Micheli is an acclaimed orthopedic surgeon and works as the Director of Sports Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital. He is also a professor of orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School. He lives in Brookline, MA, where he said he still keeps all of his marathon jackets. He said his wife Anne, “rolls her eyes at me for keeping them.”
In 1975, when Dr. Micheli began volunteering, the medical resources were almost nonexistent compared to what is there today. “There were only three or four other doctors with me, and no trainers or nurses,” he said. The basement of the Prudential Center garage served as the medical base. The atmosphere was very informal and the only food they had to give runners was beef stew.
Dr. Micheli said he has enjoyed “seeing the evolution” of the marathon throughout the years. Since his first year, he has watched the marathon grow from 800 to over 27,000 runners. The medical staff has also grown immensely. Today, Dr. Micheli works with over 1,300 other health professionals as part of highly trained and multidisciplinary volunteer medical team. “It is a great exercise for doctors,” he said.
Stationed right at the shoots that the runners walk through, Dr. Micheli has seen some truly incredible moments while volunteering. He is dedicated to runners and to the marathon. As a volunteer, “You’re going to be there for a long time,” he says. “But, it is a meaningful experience.” One year, a man collapsed a few yards from the finish line: “We couldn’t touch him because he would be disqualified. He hobbled across the finish line. When we reached him, we saw that his leg was broken. I don’t know how he did it,” he said.
One of the main reasons that Dr. Micheli returns to volunteer each year is the prestige of the race. He sees the Boston Marathon as a great way to showcase Boston and the pride of its people. He is proud to represent the Boston Marathon to thousands of runners who come from all over the world each year to run in it. When asked what makes this marathon so special, his answer was simple, “It’s the most historic race in the world.”