Series: Cities & Towns of the Boston Marathon



For our penultimate city and town segment we head back to the start line in Hopkinton to hear from one of our charity partners and their long-serving volunteer; then stop in Natick where they are preparing for a big pre-race clean-up. 

In 1997 founders Sharon Lisnow and Mary McQueeney opened the Michael Lisnow Respite Center in the town of Hopkinton. Sharon’s son Michael was born 16 weeks premature and weighed one pound; his premature birth caused him to have cerebral palsy and left him blind. Michael lived for ten years and died one year shy of the Center’s opening. He is the enduring inspiration for the center. 

The center is part of this year’s Bank of America Boston Marathon Official Charity Program, and has been part of the program for the last 26 years. 

Sharon explains, “The Boston Marathon has impacted us in so many ways. When we ended up in Hopkinton, we immediately understood how important the marathon was to the town and how much the B.A.A. supports programs here.   

"Over the years we have had 1,566 runners raise enough support to allow us to provide 183,330 hours of free care for children and adults with developmental and medical disabilities.  We would not be what we are today without the Boston Marathon and the town of Hopkinton.” 

Further connecting the B.A.A. and the center is Peter Shea. Peter participates in their community-based day program and lives in a home in Hopkinton, with three housemates, that is supported by the Respite Center.  He is also a loyal and long-time friend of the B.A.A. providing his time and skills for the last 20 years. 

Peter shares, “I always wanted to volunteer with the B.A.A. The Respite Center helped introduce me and here we are! 

“My favorite parts of volunteering have been sorting the mail, opening and sorting the race applications, helping with shredding and anything else the office needs.  But the best thing is celebrating my birthday with them.  

“Last year I got to stuff the bib numbers for the runner's bags at the Expo.  I check the names and the addresses, and we get to talk to everyone, and everyone talks to us.  It’s a really fun day! 

“Every year I get a new jacket.  I have A LOT of jackets! My favorite color so far is the yellow one.  They even put my name on the back.  It makes me look really cool.” 

Sharon gives her thoughts on Peter, “Peter has been a part of the Respite family for twenty-five years.  He is an amazing man with many talents.  He has a great sense of humor, is incredibly generous and loves to compete.  The challenges of Down Syndrome have not slowed him from reaching for dreams.  His ultimate dream was to become a volunteer for the Boston Marathon. His absolute favorite thing in the world is spending time with his friends at the B.A.A. and helping with anything he can.” 

Learn more about the Michael Lisnow Respite Center