MEDFORD — When Jesse and Carolyn Edsell-Vetter run in the Boston Marathon Monday, they'll have a lot of support, including from their 7-year-old and 2-year-old children, who have
been cheering them on throughout their four months of training.
Representatives from the Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership will also be rooting for the Medford couple, who reported raising $21,800 at press time. According to Carolyn, she'll need the encouragement.
"Some days, it's just really hard to get out the door because I know it's going to be hard, it's going to be painful," said Carolyn, who suffered a calf injury early in her training. "This is going to be a slow, ugly race for me."
The couple has raised about $50,000 in the past five years for the housing partnership, which helps clients find and maintain housing. They said they will power through inevitable exhaustion and pain because of their dedication to the cause.
The organization says it aims to assist homeless, elderly, disabled, and low- and moderate-income individuals and families. Jesse works with clients, property owners, and outside agencies to make sure that the people he works with have a place to live regardless of challenges like hoarding or mental health issues.
The Edsell-Vetters' efforts to assist those with housing needs are not going unnoticed.
"If everyone conducted themselves as they conduct their lives, the world would be a better place," said Mary Jo Kane, development manager at the housing partnership. "There is no lack of appreciation for Jesse here at MBHP."
This year's marathon will be the couple's fourth on behalf of the housing organization, and they said that it was particularly tough training for this one.
"This year it's been extraordinarily difficult because of all the snow, but I was out there," said Jesse, who started running marathons after a series of knee surgeries. "We had many feet of snow and I was out on snowshoes getting my miles in and backpacking with the kids to get our workouts in."
Because of Carolyn's injury, she had to adapt her methods and spend a lot of her early training time in the pool.
"I've learned a lot about a different way to tune into my body as a result of being injured," said Carolyn, who had worried that she wouldn't be able to get her body up to speed in the water.
Despite challenges, it was never a question for the Edsell-Vetters as to whether to run for the Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership, especially because this is the 10-year anniversary of three events: their wedding, Jesse's last knee surgery, and Jesse's arrival at the housing partnership.
Much of their lives and the way they raise their children, Yoni, 7, and Ethan, 2, revolves around the organization's mission as well as the principles of Judaism.
"A huge part of our belief system is this idea that we're all sort of called to be partners with God in repairing the world," said Carolyn.
For this family, their way of repairing is to make sure that everyone has a place to call home. According to Jesse, the children are just as passionate about this goal as their parents.
"When [Yoni] was 4, I was doing a Marathon for MBHP and he had saved $60," said Jesse. "He came into my office with 60 one-dollar bills, and he said to our executive director, 'You're my dad's boss. You make more than I do. Can you match this?' "
The Edsell-Vetters said their children acted as cheerleaders during this year's training, providing moral support and enthusiasm.
"They change up my water bottle and cheer if I need it," Jesse said. "They've been pretty great."
Yoni once again took fund-raising into his own hands. By asking family, teachers, neighbors, friends, and parents of friends, he has raked in $519 so far for a 5K he will run on Mother's Day for the housing partnership.
"He's pretty aware of the range of what we do," Jesse said of his oldest son. "He's definitely impacted by the fact that there are kids out there that don't have a place to live."
Jesse said he never considered giving up during his training, but one event did change his perspective: the passing of Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership's director of policy, development, and external relations and his personal mentor, Mary Doyle, who died at her home in neighboring Arlington in February.
"I think our team is very focused on doing this run for her because she just embodied so much of the mission of the agency," he said. "Running through the town she lived in has sort of helped focus in on why we're doing it."