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Ashley Brown, Kathleen Kirleis, and Paul Dyson will run to honor alumna Krystle Campbell, whose painting hangs in the Alumni Lounge
March 28, 2018

UMass Boston faculty, staff, run marathon to honor alumna


  • Boston
The team will be running to honor the memory of UMass Boston alumna Krystle Campbell

After training together for months, an 11-member team supporting UMass Boston will take their mark on April 16 for the 122nd Boston Marathon. The team will be running to honor the memory of UMass Boston alumna Krystle Campbell, who lost her life in the 2013 marathon bombing. Funds raised by the team will go toward the Krystle Campbell Scholarship Fund, which was established by former University of Massachusetts trustee and UMass Boston alum Richard Campbell.

Each year, the Campbell scholarship committee awards $5,000 scholarships to two undergraduate business students at UMass Boston. Students selected stand out among their peers for their academic excellence and involvement in the university and community. This year, 78 students applied for the scholarship. The two selected students will be announced at the Krystle Campbell Scholarship presentation and marathon celebration on April 7, in her hometown, at the Medford Senior Center.

 “These are students who have academic merit and who have faced significant adversity, financially and otherwise,” said Paul Dyson, professor of English at UMass Boston and 2018 Run for Krystle team member. “It’s one thing to say, ‘I’m donating money to this cause because I want to help,’ but to see that there’s an actual impact on the students and to meet with them is really just awesome. It kind of comes full circle. We’re out there running the miles and raising the money, and we’re seeing the direct impact of that through the scholarship recipients.”

Richard Campbell, who is also from Medford but is not related to Krystle, established a $300,000 scholarship fund in her name soon after the bombing. After previous marathon fundraising efforts and hosting fundraising events such as game nights, raffles, and charity events, the fund has grown to $700,000, inspiring the 2018 Run for Krystle team to make additional strides toward the goal of a $1 million endowment. The 2018 Run for Krystle team hopes to raise at least $65,000 by the time they put toe to starting line at the world-famous Boston Marathon this year.

The 2018 Run for Krystle team includes UMass Boston faculty member Paul Dyson and staff members Kathleen Kirleis, vice chancellor for administration and finance, and Ashley Brown, special assistant to the vice chancellor for government relations and public affairs.

Why did you decide to enter the Boston Marathon?

Brown: I did [the Boston Marathon] last year purely to check it off my bucket list and did it largely on my own and by myself. But this year, it’s totally different because I’m getting out there with a team, and now you’re doing it for a cause that is much bigger and much stronger. I think that for me, as a UMass Boston alum, and thinking about the opportunities that the charity will provide to students, we can’t really beat that. And of course, having the community of the team has just been awesome.

Dyson: As an alum and a faculty member, it’s really nice to be able to give back to my alma mater this way. I wouldn’t say that I love distance running, but it’s become a little less painful. The group of people I’ve worked with this year and previous years have been some of the best people I’ve ever met. Charity runners are generally a very good group of people. I had colleagues who had Krystle in class, and to do this to keep her memory alive and help our students at the same time feels really good.

Kirleis: Working here, you can really see first-hand the benefits that the scholarship has for students. Krystle Campbell was a student at my last college as well when I was at Massachusetts Bay Community College. She was a student there before she came to UMass Boston, so to be able to help support her memory, as well and see that live on through the scholarships for the students here, is really special.

What have you been doing to prepare for the marathon?

Dyson: The Marathon Coalition is an umbrella under which fall a number of Boston-area charities. A lot of us will go in on Saturdays and do a long run, and all of our long runs are on parts of the marathon course. So, the dreaded Newton Hills—miles 17 to 20—we’ve done out and back dozens of time.

Kirleis: The coaches also help provide some guidance as needed. They help with the training plans and give the same basic good advice about nutrition or gear. They’re really personable and approachable. They spotlight different charities every week, so you can learn about the missions and see how the money’s raised.

What’s going to help you finish the marathon?

Brown: It’s easy to say now what might be helpful to me in that moment, but last year, when I hit mile 20, I was scrambled in the brain. I said, “You have two choices. You either stop right here and just quit. Or you’re going to keep going, even if you’re crawling.” I decided to keep going, and something happened about mile 23, and I start gunning it—pain and all. I think it’s all personal, but you have something in you that’s deeper than you can put into words that takes you the rest of the way.

Dyson: I don’t think Hollywood gets it quite right—the whole Chariots of Fire thing. Stuff happens in the last few miles of a marathon. That’s where you grow as a person. That’s where you grow as a runner. That’s when you kind of remind yourself why you’re doing it in the first place. I think that everybody—unless they’re a professional marathon runner—but for the rest of us mortal people, that’s where everything comes flooding back. You think about the people who donated, and fundraising is harder than running in a lot of ways. That’s what carries me the last two or three miles.

Kirleis: Everyone coming to watch! Everyone reading this article needs to come watch the race. Come watch the race, come cheer us on.

To learn more about the Krystle Campbell Scholarship Fund or to donate, please visit the fundraising page. The 2018 Run for Krystle team is also hosting a raffle. Those interested can enter for a chance to win several prizes, including tickets to see Hamilton, Taylor Swift, or Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay. Winners will be selected starting on March 29, and all proceeds will benefit the Krystle Campbell Scholarship Fund. March 29 Update: the raffle has been extended to April 5; winners will be notified on April 7.