EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

April 22, 2014

We Run Together

" I'm so thrilled we went. The message is that what happened last year has made us stronger." Kate Noonan, a North Andover mother who took her two boys, Michael, 8, and Declan, 5, to yesterday's race

Kate Noonan wrestled with a dilemma this week, heading into yesterday’s Boston Marathon.

Does the North Andover mom and teacher take her two boys, Michael, 8, and Declan, 5, to the Boston Marathon, thus continuing a tradition that has spanned two-plus decades in her family?

Or does she stay home and take a break after last year’s atrocities near the finish line, particularly when her eldest son wasn’t gung-ho about going to cheer on runners like he had done practically every year of his young life?

“Michael was a little bit nervous,” said Noonan, who teaches intensive special needs at the North Andover Middle School. “He knew about the Martin Richard boy who died last year. We decided that it would be understandably a little scary, but I explained there would be a lot of police officers there to keep us safe.”

The marathon is a big deal in Noonan’s family. One of her uncles rents out at a restaurant on Beacon Street, about two miles from the finish line. Every year about 200 family members and friends spend the day cheering on runners with some good food a few feet away.

“It’s like a Super Bowl for us,” said Kate. “We look forward to it all year, all of my family. It’s just so much fun being on the race course, cheering everybody on. It really is a special day for us.”

In the car, on the way down to Boston, her son Michael talked about his trepidation, recalling the bombs and the Richard death. And all of sudden her 5-year-old says, “It’s OK. If anything happens you know karate, Michael.”

“My youngest son didn’t really understand what happened, but Michael did,” said Kate. “When we first got there and runners started coming by, Michael hid a little bit inside the restaurant. But then he saw how much fun everyone was having, handing out the waters and freeze pops, (so) he joined in.”

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