Contact: Joy Olaes Surprenant,

Founder and Executive Director


Phone: 617-319-4812

Catching Joy to ‘run’ 26 Miles for Heroes and Victims of the Boston Marathon Bombings

By Andrea Calvin

Catching Joy is on a 26-mile race to thank the heroes and support the victims of the Boston Marathon Bombings. As a local nonprofit dedicated to promoting volunteerism beginning with young children, Catching Joy will hold 26 family-friendly events leading up to the 2014 Boston Marathon. Proceeds will benefit charities organized to help the people most affected by the bombings on April 15. As a Boston resident and mother, Joy Olaes Surprenant is determined to bring peace, understanding and joy through these 26 events as the city heals and prepares to run again.

Joy Olaes Surprenant and her 9-year-old son Maxwell were at the Boston Marathon.

“We were watching the marathon on the sidelines between Boston College in Brighton and Heartbreak Hill in Newton,” Joy said of the annual tradition. The two Brighton residents joined hundreds of others as they cheered on runners who were supporting various charities, many Maxwell was very familiar with.

“Because we help so many, we really do know them,” Joy said.

She serves as the founder and executive director of Catching Joy, an entirely volunteer-driven nonprofit aimed at promoting volunteerism at a young age. Maxwell is also on the board of directors and for the past five years, has encouraged kids to become involved with helping others. As Maxwell said, “you got it, give it.” They’ve supported 70 nonprofits.

While watching the Marathon, Maxwell noticed that as he cheered for specific runners, they picked up speed and were able to tackle the dreaded Heartbreak Hill.

Joy said at one point, Maxwell shouted, “‘You can do it!’ ‘We’re running with you, too!'”

Then they heard about an explosion. Joy’s husband was working on Boylston Street, blocks away from the bombs.

“That was the first time ever, we couldn’t get in touch with him,” Joy said. He walked home from work and that night there was a bit of relief in their home. Friday, April 19 the family was part of the Boston lockdown as police searched for the remaining bombing suspect.

“People ask me, ‘Did you shield Maxwell?'” Joy paused. “We didn’t. We couldn’t. He is a kid that has curiosity and care.”

When it was all over, Maxwell started a list of all the things Catching Joy should do to help the victims. It was a long list.

“It became real to him that he was going to help. Then the fears decreased and his determination to help increased,” Joy said.

Catching Joy has started on its marathon. Mile one was the New England Give Camp held April 26 -28, at the New England Research and Development Center  in Cambridge. This event linked 24 nonprofits and 120 volunteers in a weekend of designing, programming and technology support.

New England Give Camp and Catching Joy held a raffle and raised $1,000. Half will be given to the Sean A. Collier Memorial Fund, in memory of the slain MIT officer and half will be distributed to the One Fund Boston.

In introducing the raffle, Maxwell spoke to the crowd about Catching Joy and asked them to help support the marathon of 26 events. Joy recalled that Maxwell told everyone to join him at a table to make cards for the heroes and victims.

Catching Joy routinely holds card making events, encouraging kids and adults to bless another through drawings and words.

The Catching Joy marathon continues into May with five events.

On May 4,  Catching Joy and Ben Rudnick and Friends will hold an event at TICO in the Back Bay to support One Fund Boston. Just blocks away from the Boston Marathon finish line, the owners of TICO’s have a connection to the family of Martin Richard, the youngest victim of the bombings. Catching Joy will be there from 10 to noon. At 10, volunteers will lead a card making activity to send to police and fire departments. TICO Restaurant is located at 222 Berkeley St., Boston.

Joy said the goal in all of this isn’t to reintroduce kids to something scary.

“We don’t talk about the tragedy as much as we thank our community heroes,” she said..

Miles three and four will be on Mother’s Day. As in years past, Catching Joy will be creating spring cards at the Ritz Carlton in Boston with donations benefiting the heroes and victims of the Boston Marathon Bombings. Catching Joy will hold a service learning project at Mommy Poppins Boston One Family Music Festival. The event is from noon to 5 p.m. at the Exchange Conference Center, Boston Fish Pier 212 Northern Ave.

Mile five will be at the Blue Bunny book store in Dedham Square on May 17, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. It will be part of the PJ Storytime with Catching Joy and feature a card project to say thank you to the police.

As the summer months come, more miles will be added. Joy plans to organize bake sales, car washes, a Jump-a-Thon, a Red Sox event, PMC Rides, and community lemonade stands. She encourages kids to host a lemonade stand in their own neighborhood with the proceeds going to the victims and heroes of the Boston Marathon bombings through Catching Joy.  The fall will feature events with Boston College and the Parish of St. Ignatius. Everything is still evolving, but Catching Joy will reach its goal of 26 events.

“Catching Joy is this, ‘I think I can, I think I can’ organization,” Joy said. It started because she wanted to volunteer with her son, and evolved into a growing network of community builders.

To run with Catching Joy in its 26 Miles of events, contact Joy at

“Kids and families can choose to participate in as many events as they would like. This could be one, or as many as 26 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,” she said.

—–Catching Joy is a 501c3 nonprofit 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