At least 72 runners in this year's Boston Marathon will run in honor of Martin Richard, the 8-year-old Dorchester boy killed in last year's bombing.
Team MR8 — the foundation created by Martin's parents -- on Thursday announced the names of the runners, including 24 from Boston. Funds raised by these runners will go toward Team MR8’s mission of promoting peace.
“We established The Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation to honor our son Martin's message of peace, a message that went global in the days after he was tragically taken from us while we were all cheering on runners at last year's Boston Marathon,” Martin’s father, Bill Richard, said in a statement. “While the pain of that day will forever be with us, our hope is that this special event becomes a source of strength for our family and a means to make a difference in the world.”
The Richard family received more than 250 applications from 35 states, Europe, Asia and South America. Fifty of the 72 runners chosen to represent the team come from Massachusetts.
"We were impressed that every application we received was sincere and thoughtful. Many of them were emotional and told of personal experience with tragedy, perseverance, and heroism," Denise Richard, Martin's mother, said in a statement. "Some stories were difficult to read, but every single application was read carefully and considered fully. In many ways, the process was good for Bill and me."
The team will accept up to 36 additional applicants from runners who were already registered for the 2014 marathon.
The Boston Athletic Association, which organizes the Boston Marathon, also gave 15 charity bibs to the family of Lu Lingzi, the Boston University graduate student killed in the bombings. The family is reserving five of those spots for members of the BU community and money raised will go to the Lu Lingzi Scholarship Fund.
The 2014 Boston Marathon is scheduled for April 21. The field — which was expanded to 36,000 to make room for the 5,000 runners who were unable to finish in 2013 — is expected to be the second largest in the race’s 118 year history.