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Author Topic: UL - 25 years later, Gary Aramini's running again  (Read 1456 times)
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« on: June 21, 2009, 10:53:42 AM »

from the Union Leader

25 years later, Gary Aramini's running again
Union Leader Correspondent
Thursday, Jun. 18, 2009

DERRY – Tomorrow's two-day American Cancer Society Relay for Life is a big deal. It will bring hundreds of people together to raise more than $82,000 locally for cancer research. Teams of cancer survivors, their families, friends and caregivers, will camp out at the Pinkerton Academy track, all of them with personal stories of struggle and triumph to share as they walk a few miles in their own shoes, because others can't.

Among them will be Pinkerton alumnus Gary Aramini, who has assembled Team Quiet Thunder to commemorate the 25th anniversary of a historic cross-country run that gained national attention. In the summer of 1984, Aramini covered 3,480 miles in 116 days in honor of fellow Pinkerton classmate, Billy Clay, who died of bone cancer shortly after graduation.

In the fine print of his story you will encounter a young man with the unflappable innocence of Forrest Gump, the unyielding compassion of Mother Teresa and the undying desire to emulate the life of Christ.

Through his efforts and the resulting community outpouring, he raised over a half-million dollars for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

13 pairs of sneakers

Along the way he wore out 13 pairs of sneakers, was hospitalized briefly in Missouri with bruising on the side of his brain, and hobbled on aching knees supported by blistered feet. In retrospect, he realizes his own physical pain forced him to slow the pace he originally set for himself. This allowed him to spend time with cancer patients along the way who waited for him as he ran, encouraged by Aramini's determination.

To this day his mission remains one of service and compassion. He works as a physical therapy assistant at a nursing home in North Carolina. He prays constantly. He is humbled daily by the small miracles he sees in the lives of those burdened by the suffering of Alzheimer's disease, cancer and other infirmities.

And he is certain it traces back to the day he recognized God's call while just a wide-eyed kid in New Hampshire.

"I can't explain all of it, but looking back, I realize it was partly my age and partly being raised to be concerned about others," said Aramini, who grew up in Chester before moving to North Carolina 15 years ago. "Ultimately, it was God inviting me to lift up the cross of a cancer burden and try to make it lighter for those who were suffering, in the name of love."

Aramini was just 19 when the news of Billy Clay's death stirred something deeply divine inside him.

"People ask if we were best friends -- I knew him, we went to school together, we were the same age. I had some idea of his suffering, based on what I understood, and what his mom said to me. But as I walked away from his funeral, I felt that God was calling on me do something," Aramini said.

"Now I realize he was leading me toward compassion by identification. It was a way for me to understand his fight by going through my own suffering so that I could offer hope to other kids -- kids I had yet to meet," Aramini said. "Little did I know, it was the beginning of a bigger story to come."

He prayed about it, and decided that the best way to counter the devastation of death was with hope -- rallying others to help raise money for research.

A fateful encounter

Aramini planned to run across the country for the cause. His heart was in the right place, but he needed some guidance to achieve his goal. Aramini went to the United Federal Bank on Crystal Avenue in Derry and sought the help of branch manager Tom May.

"It's like it just happened yesterday," said May, recalling their first fateful encounter. "It's probably the most emotional time of my life -- seeing this 19-year-old kid do what he did -- it defies comprehension."

Aramini wanted to raise $100,000. He had no idea how he would do it.

In reality, his encounter with May helped to rally to his cause not only the towns of Derry and Chester, but the entire state of New Hampshire -- and a significant slice of America, said May, who used his connections with local service clubs and the Chamber of Commerce to support Aramini's ambitious plan. Sponsors provided running shoes and fast food meals along the way, and a local car dealer donated a motor home for his support team to trail him.

"It was a love story from the beginning," said May, now with TD Banknorth in New Boston. "It's hard to explain the kind of impact something like that has on you. At first, as I listened to him, I wondered, 'Is this kid for real? Does he really think he can run 40 miles a day for 100 days?' He naively thought people would just come out and give him money," May said.

It was a friendship that stuck. May will be joining Aramini for tomorrow's relay -- as will some of the original team members who helped him journey cross-country back in 1984.

"I met Gary right before he left for the trip -- he was looking for another driver. He found me while we were on a retreat with the Emmaus House together," said John Thompson of Manchester, who will participate along with his wife, Louise, and their two teen daughters, Emilee and Abbey. "Gary is an amazing individual -- I don't think you meet too many people in your lifetime like him."

What matters most

Other team members include Aramini's niece, Alana Dolloff, and Mitch Larochelle, who lost his wife to cancer several years ago.

Aramini, 45, said he knows his physical limitations. He expects to start running tomorrow, and wouldn't be surprised if he is crawling by Saturday.

"God has used me to inspire others with my story -- I've been blessed to be able to tell it to church and community groups over the years. But there are a lot of nameless people that will never have something done in their honor -- yet they are just as worthy," Aramini said.

"I did what I did for Billy Clay because of my identification with him, with his unrealized hopes and dreams. In a way, we all have this relay to get through, called life. Some of us have started out of the gate going pretty fast. I would ask people who remember my run 25 years ago to think about how it touched them back then, and to examine if they are still focused on the things in life that matter most -- like family, like loving our neighbors," Aramini said. "When you have the right motivation of love behind the things you do, your life is lived differently. It really all does come down to love."'s+running+again&articleId=909da047-bbfb-41a0-be33-f152e315e29f

Glenn Douglas
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« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2009, 11:10:22 AM »

Aramini, 45, said he knows his physical limitations. He expects to start running tomorrow, and wouldn't be surprised if he is crawling by Saturday.

Gary did an incredible job yesterday. Begging at after the opening ceremonies at 6:00 Friday he ran through the night finishing his final lap shortly before the closing ceremony at noon on Saturday.

In total he ran an incredible 60 Miles during the event! and he wasn't crawling at the end.

Should anyone wish to contribute to Gary's team you can do so at:


Glenn Douglas
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