Cleveland and Bradley County’s 26 member Run Now Relay to Boston Team and Support Crews will be given a “heroes welcome home” Saturday morning as the athletes return home from an eight day relay that took them 1,075 miles to the Boston Marathon.
The public is invited to take part and officially welcome the Boston Relay Now Runners home with a large rally Saturday from 9-10 a.m. on the Courthouse Plaza, the same spot where hundreds gathered just a few days earlier to give them a send off.
Beginning at 9 a.m. a delegation of local and state officials will be on stage as the runners make their “run” into the downtown area. Steve Hartline of My Mix 104.1 Radio will emcee the event.
Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland and Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis will head the local and state officials on stage and will present each of the runners and their support crew team a citation making them official “Cleveland/Bradley County Ambassadors” acknowledging their participation in the Run Now Relay to Boston. Taking part will be State Representatives Kevin Brooks and Eric Watson, State Senators Mike Bell and Todd Gardenhire – the same group on hand to give them a send off April 12.
“It’s appropriate we honor this team for taking the Cleveland and Bradley County spirit cross country and all the positive national media coverage that brought attention and recognition to our community,” said Mayors Rowland and Davis in a joint statement. “Their faces and stories were featured in newspapers and television shows from Tennessee to Boston, even making appearances on Good Morning America. They have been great ambassadors for our community.”
Janey Cooke, whose daughter Britney was one of the runners, is coordinating the event and said “we felt it appropriate to give them a heroes welcome home after making a 1,078 mile trek in eight days and raising well over $63,000 for charities. So many people have expressed a desire to see them return home and to hear their stories from along the route. This will be the perfect opportunity to do just that.”
The ceremony begins with runners being escorted into downtown to the cheers of the crowds. Each runner will come across the plaza stage for a brief comment about their run experience and to receive their “ambassadorship” honor.
The ceremony will end promptly at 10 a.m. and will be followed by a private reception being hosted by Cooke’s Food Stores and the Dan Cooke family. The reception will allow runners and their immediate families to gather, fellowship and share stories of the past few days on the road. “So many friendships were made and so many wonderful stories experienced along the way,” said Ms. Cooke. “The reception for family and runners will allow them to be together as one big family to share with one another.”