South Bay local Dustin Sanza trains for the 2018 Boston Marathon while raising money for the Martin Richard Foundation.
Dustin Sanza was in his early 20s when an opportunity to work in Boston presented itself. “I was young, like 24 or 25,” he notes. “I thought, ‘Why not?’ I’d go for two, three years.” He ended up staying for nearly six.
For this Southern California native who grew up in Palos Verdes, Boston was a stark contrast from what he was used to. And he liked it. “I love Boston; it’s a great city. You walk everywhere. It’s so easy to meet up with people. I developed a really good social network. If it wasn’t for [the] winters, I’d probably still live there.”
Dustin goes on to describe the neighborhood feel Boston has, despite being a large metropolis. “There’s a big sense of community. That’s why the bombing was so … even though it was an attack on a city, it felt like it was an attack on a neighborhood.”
During the April 15, 2013 bombing of the Boston Marathon, Dustin was working in the city. His office was roughly a mile from the site of the attack.
“It’s hard to explain to someone who has never been,” Dustin says. “The marathon in Boston is bigger than the Fourth of July is here. [People take] off work; none of the kids go to school. The Red Sox purposely start their game early. You go to the game, you funnel out—Fenway Park is about a mile, maybe not even, to the finish line.”
Since his first year in the city, Dustin had made it to a number of Marathon Mondays. But during the 2013 bombing, he was at his office. “I was sitting at my desk. One of my friends messaged me that a few bombs just went off at the marathon. On our trading desks, we have CNBC going at all times. When the coverage went national, that’s when it hit that something was really wrong here. It was just a crazy, crazy day. We had no idea who did it [or] what their motivation was.”
For the next few days, the city was quiet. “It was really creepy,” Dustin remembers. “Nobody was outside. You saw military vehicles driving up and down the streets. It’s weird to see such a big city just shut down.”
But Boston wouldn’t stay quiet for long. A year later at the next marathon, Dustin recalls the scene. “You know, Boston’s a tough city. It was almost like, ‘You’re not going to dictate our well-being.’ There was a little bit of somberness, but they were proud: ‘You’re not going to shut us down; we’re going to keep moving forward.’”
“It was really creepy. Nobody was outside. You saw military vehicles driving up and down the streets. It’s weird to see such a big city just shut down.”
Dustin never ran the Boston Marathon while he lived there, but he’s currently training here in the South Bay to participate in the 2018 race. “Even if you’ve never run a day in your life, watching people finish the Boston Marathon is so inspiring. It’s like, ‘Aw man, I want to do this. I want that feeling.’”
In addition to training for the marathon, Dustin is fundraising for the Martin Richard Foundation. “The Martin Richard Foundation really spoke to me,” he says. “He’s the only child who died in the bombing. He was only 8 years old; it was awful. He was so young and so innocent.”
With an initial goal of $7,600, Dustin has now raised well over $10,000 with no plans to quit before Marathon Monday. “I started [fundraising] on November 1, 2017. I was originally nervous about how I was going to raise [the money]. But when it’s a cause like this, so many people are willing to step up. It’s been really humbling.”
With yoga-inspired fundraisers and donations ranging from bottles of organic wine to healthy snacks and even sunglasses, people have been eager to contribute to the cause. But it’s Dustin’s contribution of time that’s brought it all together—the time he’s donated to rallying those around him to give to the cause; the time he’s donated training for his upcoming 26.2-mile run; and the time he’ll spend in Boston this April in support of the city’s most beloved event.
To donate prior to Dustin’s April 16 race, go to crowdrise.com/o/en/team/teammr8boston2018/dustinsanza. For more information on the Martin Richard Foundation go to teammr8.org.