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Local woman hits trail in One Run for Boston relay

| Friday, April 18, 2014, 12:45 p.m.
Sisters Erin Oliver (left) and Kristin Curci (right), a guidance counselor at Homer-Center High School, pose with friend Monica Davis early on April 9 while pausing at Burrell Township's Saylor Park, midway through completing their 14-mile leg of the One Run For Boston II. The running relay across America raised funds to support victims of the bombings at the 2013 Boston Marathon. Curci's husband, Matt, also joined in the relay leg from the old Blairsville airport to the Ghost Town Trail trailhead in Dilltown.
Tammy Buffone (left) embraces fellow Homer-Center High School guidance counselor Kristin Curci — one of four runners who completed a local 14-mile leg of the One Run For Boston II relay on April 9. Buffone was among a dozen Homer-Center supporters who showed up to surprise Curci and her team in the middle of their run early that day at Burrell Township's Saylor Park.

Kristin Curci was standing on Boylston Street in Boston, Mass., with her family on April 15 last year, waiting to meet up with her sister, who had just finished running the Boston Marathon, when back-to-back explosions turned what should have been a day of triumph into a day of tragedy.

Curci, an Indiana resident and guidance counselor at Homer-Center High School, is now helping to create something positive from the horrific bombings that killed three and maimed and wounded over 250 more. Early in the morning on April 9, she ran a nearly 14-mile leg of the One Run for Boston, a coast-to-coast relay raising money for the victims of the bombings and their families.

“People ran through lightning storms, up mountains, through the desert,” Curci said of the relay. “It's amazing.”

Curci found out about the One Run for Boston through a friend, Candi Lockard, who operates a running club that Curci helps out with at Ben Franklin Elementary School. Lockard, the cross country coach at Indiana Area High School, has run the Boston Marathon in the past with her husband, and her elderly aunt was running the marathon last year but was stopped after the bombing occurred.

Curci decided to sign up to run a leg of the One Run for Boston relay and was assigned to Stage 274, which began at the Blairsville end of the West Penn Trail and continued east on a portion of the Ghost Town Trail. They finished their segment at the trail's intersection with Route 259, where the Lockards, also of Indiana, picked up the baton to run the next stage.

Curci ran her stage with her sister, Erin Oliver, and Monica Davis, a teacher friend of Oliver's and a fellow resident of Canton, Ohio. The trio were helped along by Curci's husband, Matt, who followed behind them in his car on the portion of their run that had them traversing Route 22 and cutting over to Route 119. They also received support from Donald Isherwood of the Blairsville Police Department, who followed behind them a good part of the way.

About halfway through their run, Curci, Oliver and Davis encountered a pleasant surprise as they approached Saylor Park in Black Lick. Curci's friend, Christina Bruno, a history teacher at Homer-Center High School, had gathered other staff from the high school to create a cheering section.

“How could you not support such a wonderful idea?” Bruno said, noting she received the fundraising link from Curci the week before. “As soon as I read it, I thought, we've got to get down there and be with them, show them our support.”

Bruno organized a group of 15 supporters who met in Homer City and car-pooled to Black Lick, arriving at 12:45 a.m. Homer-Center art instructor Gary Wyant had made reflective signs for the supporters to wave, and they lined up in the parking lot with their lights off.

“When they got close enough, we turned on our cars, beeped our horns, started yelling and waving our signs,” Bruno said.

“It was absolutely overwhelming,” Curci said. “That really helped to carry us for the final six or seven miles.”

“We all felt like we were one,” Bruno said. “Everything was about the survivors at that moment, to support the people who lost so much in the Boston tragedy and to support the people now who continue to remember them and keep their memories alive, continue to raise money for ongoing medical needs.

“I think two hours out of our night is nothing.”

Oliver had finished the Boston Marathon seven minutes before the first bomb went off at last year's event. Curci was waiting about a block away from the finish line with her parents, her sister's husband and their three kids, Curci's daughter and family friends who live in the Boston area.

One of those friends was Glenn Fratto, whose knowledge of the city helped Curci and her family find a way out after the city went on lockdown following the bombings.

Curci said they likely would have just followed the marathon route to find their way to where Oliver was waiting, but Fratto rerouted them through another street, cutting back over to the marathon route. If they had followed it the whole way, they would have been right in the vicinity of where the bombings took place, she said.

“We were in that big, bustling city, and it was a beautiful day,” Curci recalled. But after the first bomb went off, “It was like somebody pushed the pause button on life. Everybody just froze. Then the second bomb went off, and at that point, people were running and yelling for people to run.”

Curci's brother-in-law went off in search of Oliver, who had contacted them after the first bomb explosion to let them know she was OK.

Once reunited, it took them a little over two hours to find their way out of the city. Fratto found a subway line that was open that got them to the station that would take them back to Arlington, Mass., where they were staying with Fratto's parents. Their flights back home were canceled, though, so Curci rented a car in order to get her, her daughter and her parents back to Indiana, where they live.

A year later, Curci and her sister found it important to learn more about some of the people who were victims of the bombing that changed so many lives.

Prior to the start of their stage, Curci said they were sitting in the car waiting, and Oliver pulled up a picture of a little girl named Jane, who was waiting at the finish line when the bombs exploded. Her little brother was one of the ones killed, and she lost her own leg in the explosion.

Curci said they were all very moved by her story.

“We decided then that we would dedicate our run to her,” she said. “That was what carried us through,” knowing that money they helped raise would benefit children like Jane, who would have to be fitted with costly prosthetics throughout all of their growing years.

The relay itself began March 16 in Venice Beach, Calif., and ran continuously 24 hours a day, seven days a week all the way across the country. The runners signed up online, and at each stage of the relay a baton embedded with a GPS was passed on.

“So at any point, anyone could get online and see where in the nation the relay was,” Curci said.

On April 14, the baton reached Boston, where over 600 runners had registered for the final stage. A friend of Curci's was one of them, and Curci said she received a text from her after she finished. All 600-plus runners in that final stage walked across the finish line together, united for the cause in support of the victims and their families.

“It was such good that came out of such evil,” Curci said.

And the incident at last year's Boston Marathon won't deter anyone in their family from running in that or similar events, Curci said, noting that her sister hoped to enter the Boston Marathon again this year, which will take place Monday, but just missed the qualifying time.

Runners participating in the relay each paid a registration fee, and each runner had their own page on the One Run for Boston website where people could make donations. Money raised will benefit the One Fund for Boston.When Curci last checked, the site showed that over $433,000 had been raised.

Curci's personal goal was to raise $500. Her last tally at the beginning of the week showed $855. People can still donate through her site at

Gina DelFavero is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2915 or

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