Monday, April 21, 2014

Running for Humanity

by Dora He and Anita Salzberg,
American Red Cross

The afternoon of April 12, 2013, Moroccan native and Greater New York Red Cross volunteer Hamsi Hicham had just finished the Boston Marathon and was gathering his belongings when he heard the bombs go off. He quickly texted his girlfriend, who was still running. (She was unharmed.)

Despite the trauma of last year’s event, the 35-year-old employee of Paragon Sports and auxiliary member of the NYC Police Department has put aside his worries and doubts and is once again running in the Boston Marathon today, a year later.

“We cannot let negative thoughts plant fear in our hearts,” Hamsi said. “All of us, we run for the victims. This marathon is a run for humanity.”

Hamsi, who became a Red Cross volunteer the summer of 2011, has been a competitive runner since he was a child, running various distances in numerous marathons. Last year, he ran a 100 km (62 mile) race in upstate New York. “In Morocco, we train hard. We like to win,” he said with a grin. “No matter how far you run, you feel like a superstar in your race.”

During Hamsi’s time at the Red Cross, he has provided assistance after large-scale disasters such as Superstorm Sandy, as well as everyday emergencies, including home fires. He says that volunteering with the Red Cross and running share many similarities.

“They both involve a voluntary choice to reach a goal and inspire people. Furthermore, both activities require intense dedication and spring out of a desire to improve our own lives, and the lives of others as well.”

Hamsi said he joined the Red Cross because of his passion to help others.

“It’s in my nature,” he explained. “I’m happier when I’m surrounded with people, and we are working together to do good things.

“The Red Cross in Greater New York is like a big family to me,” he added. “We as New Yorkers and volunteers feel the pain of the Bostonians. But the best way to heal is ... to run.”  


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