After Marathon Bombings, Walk for Hunger Fundraising, Registrations Slow

The Walk for Hunger is on May 5, 2013.

For Project Bread Executive Director Ellen Parker, April 15 to 19 was the week almost everything stopped.

In Boston, and in places around the country and world, life as usual stopped as the Boston Marathon bombings unfolded April 15, then came to a dramatic conclusion on April 19 with the death of one bombing suspect and the capture in Watertown of another. 

What also stopped that week? The steady flow of registrations and fundraising for Project Bread’s Walk for Hunger, scheduled for Sunday, May 5. The walk is the oldest continuously operating pledge walk in the country, raising money for anti-hunger programs in Massachusetts.

“We’re trying hard to regain some lost ground,” Parker said. 

Online fundraising for the walk is down 6 percent this year, said Parker, who noted fundraising efforts by walkers typically speed up starting in mid-April, and continue through the walk the first weekend in May. This year, the Marathon bombings meant people’s attention turned elsewhere during the usual ramp-up to the walk, she said.

“It’s almost the nature of the world, that people would be focused on something that was almost unimaginable in the past,” Parker said. “We lost some momentum. We’re pressing really hard to make up for that.” 

Along with fundraising, walker registration has also been slower since the Boston Marathon. One school group called Parker shortly after the Marathon, saying they’d be happy to fundraise, but they didn’t feel comfortable walking this year, she said. 

After all, Sunday’s Walk for Hunger, and its 20-mile loop through Boston, Brookline, Newton, Watertown and Cambridge, will be the first major sporting event to be held in the city since the Marathon bombings. About 40,000 walkers and 2,000 volunteers are expected to take part. 

While crisis and safety plans are nothing new to Project Bread’s staffers, they’ve taken on new significance this year. More than 100 police in five municipalities are involved, according to Project Bread’s website, plus extra state police and park rangers.

“There will be a bit more visibility of police along the walk,” Parker said. 

Also this year, walkers and volunteers are asked not to bring backpacks to the event. Instead, they are asked to use small day bags, if anything. Walkers are also asked on the website to be sure to keep their belongings with them at all times. 

With just three days until the walk, Parker said “things have slowly started to pick up again,” as the event nears. She’s hopeful the walk will be a bright spot amid what has been a trying time for the area. 

“We’re hoping we’re going to bring some light to what was a tough time for our city and state,” Parker said.

 A route map and road closure information for Boston is available here.

For more information on Project Bread’s Walk for Hunger, visit the organization’s website.  

South End Patch