ANDOVER — Ashley McLaughlin knows where will be tears as she crosses the Boston Marathon finish line, and finds the arms of best friend Arianna Miliotis.
There will be tears of joy, for completing one of the greatest challenges in sports. There will be tears of pride for accomplishing a life-long goal.
But there will also be tears of sadness, for the loved on who will be missing from the celebration. Tears for the friend whose courage and spirit remain McLaughlin’s greatest source of strength more than a decade later.
“Alex (Miliotis) is always on my mind,” said McLaughlin. “Alex is still such a strong influence on me. She was so amazing. So tough. She never let anything stop her. It’s important to remember her struggles and keep her spirit alive.”
March 15, 2013, marked 11 years since the passing of 16-year-old Alexandra Miliotis of Andover, who lost her battle with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia following a 10-month battle.
One month from that date, April 15 of this year, McLaughlin will pay tribute to Miliotis by running the Boston Marathon in memory of her friend and for “Alex’s Team,” the charity run by the Miliotis family.
“It’s very moving and inspirational for my whole family that Ashley is doing this for Alex,” said Arianna Miliotis, Alex’s twin sister. “Ashley’s (race) bib will say, ‘In Honor of Alexandra Miliotis.’ That is really special for me.
“I think it will be very emotional and we will express the love we have for each other and the love and memories we have of Alex. When she crosses the finish line I know it will be very emotional.”
For McLaughlin, the Marathon was a perfect way to honor her friend.
After all, it was athletics that brought McLaughlin and the Miliotis twins together, and sports was a passion Alex held dear.