Boston Marathon bombings
More on this week's Boston Marathon explosions and Lawrence:
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Kansas University senior Kait Perry hadn’t looked at the news all day Monday, busy switching between writing a 12-page paper and ruminating about where she’d be going to graduate school next year.
That was until the evening, when her sister texted her to check what had happened that day in Boston, one possible destination for Perry next year. And once Perry clicked to see news of the Boston Marathon explosions, grad school and her paper moved to the side. She couldn't think about anything else.
“I looked at a lot of pictures,” said Perry, who’s from Auburn, south of Topeka. “I saw people without limbs.”
Within a few hours, she and two friends had launched “Hawks for Boston,” an effort to raise money at KU for victims of the explosions. By Thursday, they and other students had raised more than $2,000 altogether, and they weren’t done yet.
“I knew I couldn’t just fly to Boston, but I did feel some sort of draw to help,” Perry said.
As directed by the American Red Cross, Perry and her friends launched a page on the site Crowdrise.com to raise funds for Red Cross recovery efforts in Boston. Perry said they launched the site about 9:30 p.m. Monday, with a goal of raising $500. They passed that mark by about 11 p.m.
Perry, a member of KU’s Student Senate, had asked for help from other members, and they Tweeted and Facebooked the fundraiser link far and wide.
“I think it was just a lot of Jayhawks excited about the cause, telling everybody about it,” Perry said.
By Tuesday afternoon, the link had reached KU freshman Laura Thayer. She came to KU this year from Upton, Mass., a town outside of Boston near where the marathon’s route begins.
This was the first year in many that Thayer and her father weren’t watching the marathon together in their customary spot a mile from the finish line. Every year on that day she and her dad would go watch the Boston Red Sox play and then grab their marathon spot.
But then she came to KU this year. Her dad stayed home, because none of Thayer’s siblings are sports fans like she is. And Thayer was disappointed to see that the day of the marathon, Patriots Day, isn’t a holiday here as it is in Massachusetts, so she had to go to class.
And then the explosions happened, and she was left to watch news coverage and talk to her dad on the phone. She knew 14 people running in the marathon, and none was hurt, but it still didn’t feel right not to be there.
“I felt so helpless from so far away,” Thayer said.
Then, on Facebook, a friend sent her a link to the “Hawks for Boston” page Tuesday.
“I was like, there’s something I can do,” Thayer said. “I was so excited.” And she was shocked, she said, that so many people at KU cared about the victims back home.
She didn’t know Perry, but she sent her a Facebook message to ask what she could do to help. Every day since then, she’s been behind the “Hawks for Boston” fundraising table on campus.
Others have joined in the effort, too, Perry said. About 20 students are helping now. Between their efforts online and the table on campus, they’ve raised about $2,100 in all. The Red Cross has announced that it’s ending its fundraising specifically for Boston victims, so the “Hawks for Boston” are now directing money and donors to The One Fund, via theonefundboston.org, created this week to help victims.
Their table will be back out from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday inside the Kansas Union.
Perry still doesn’t know where she’ll be going to grad school, and she’s still got that 12-page paper to write — she got the OK to turn it in later. And that, she says, is all right.
“I thought, well, maybe this is more important than everything I’m worried about right now,” Perry said.