Running to catch joy…


by Joy Olaes Surprenant

We were there at the Boston Marathon.

As we have done for several years, me and my nine year old son, Maxwell, were watching the Marathon on the sidelines between Boston College in Brighton and Heartbreak Hill in Newton. We, among many, were clapping and cheering the participants.  We were giving shout outs to the runners wearing various charity shirts.

So many great causes.

Maxwell asked, “Mommy, how long is the Marathon?”

I answered “26.2 miles.”

“Wow!”, he exclaimed, so amazed.  Then he went back to the runners, “You can do it!”  “We’re running with you, too!”

I smiled, it did feel like we’re all running together.

A sudden, frightening turn of events caused our hearts to go out to the victims of the Boston Marathon. It was unbelievable, so upsetting, so sad.  Maxwell asked questions, Who, What, Where, Why?

With a shaky voice and tears, he asked again, “Why?”

I answered, the best way that I could, and hugged him tight.

“Are we safe?”, my little boy asked.

Remembering the lesson we learned from Mr. Rogers,  I suggested, “Let’s look for the helpers.” Together we named police, firefighters, military, doctors and nurses.

So thankful.

I talked with him about the tragedy. I tried my hardest to make him see, what I know and believe to be true- there is more good than bad, more light than dark, more positive than negative in the world.

He nodded.

“I want to do something to help,” he said.

He meant it. He listed several things he could do including making posters, selling cards, selling t-shirts, running a lemonade stand, hosting a bake sale – he perked up as he rattled off his ideas – organizing a car wash…a basketball shootout…a comedy show!

“I’ll tell knock- knock jokes!  I’ll make people laugh!”

That is how the *Catching  Joy Marathon got started, inspired by a young boy who wanted to do something to help.

We are organizing 26 family friendly events, each one representing a “mile”. Over the course of the year and leading up to The Boston Marathon 2014, these events will aid the victims and thank the heroes of  2013.

We want to offer kids with their families opportunities to get involved.  We believe in the power of kids with a supportive community behind them.

We know that kids care, so we find ways to help kids help others. Families can participate in a variety of events, different locations, several partnering organizations.   There’s something for all kids with various interests, skills, talents, and socio-economic backgrounds.

Everybody has something to give, and everybody can make a difference.

Catching Joy makes volunteering easy and fun.

Kids and families can choose to participate in as many events as they would like . This could be one, or as many as twenty-six miles– the full Marathon. Each mile is important.  We value the difference one child can make with one event.  It is not a sprint, but a long race meant to be enjoyed one mile at a time.

We know it is a challenge, but nobody runs a marathon because it’s easy.

We will do it.  We will run together.

*Catching Joy is a 501c3 non-profit that promotes volunteerism beginning with young children and their families.  We organize hands-on community service activities that kids can do to let them feel the joy of giving.  Joy Olaes Surprenant serves as the Founder and Executive Director.  Maxwell Surprenant, serves as the youngest Board Member.

For more information, see





Running to catch joy…