A University of Connecticut alumni will be representing the non-profit United States Organization at the 127th Boston Marathon on April 14.
Allison M. Hayes, 31, has competed in multiple races but this will be her first marathon.
Last year, Hayes became a volunteer for the USO Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut, since both of her grandfathers served in the Navy. Since then, she has helped with send-offs for soldiers into deployment, submarine homecomings and helping around the center.
“I continue to see the positive impact USO has put on the community,” Hayes stated.
Hayes said she doesn’t enjoy distance running, but after injuring her neck and back in a car accident on Aug. 3, 2015, she saw running as a test of progress.
“When I ran the first one in 2018, I told myself that this the furthest I would be running a race, but when I finished the second I knew I was not only capable of, but I owed it to myself to run ‘the whole damn thing,’” Hayes stated on her donation page.
About two years after the accident, Hayes ran her first race, a 6 kilometer race. She then ran a 5 mile race, a 10 mile race and a half marathon. Hayes has been sticking to an 18-week program to train for the Boston Marathon. She and her teammates are raising money for USO with a target goal of $20,000.
Hayes says her goal is to be able finish the race.
“My goal is to finish. I know a lot of people who run at [marathons] have specific time to finish in,” Hayes said. “I don’t. I just want to cross the finish line. I don’t care how long it takes.”
Although Hayes is from New Jersey, her grandparents were born and raised in Boston. She lost her grandfather, Hareld Hayes, to COVID-19 in 2020 at the age of 96. Hayes is dedicating her race to her grandparents and to military service members . Hayes graduated from UConn in 2013 with a double major in Journalism and Criminal Justice through the individualized program. She currently lives in Mystic, Conn. and works as a field team leader for Paragon System Inc.
The United States Organization is a global nonprofit organization that has served active military service members and their families since 1941. Their mission is to strengthen service members by connecting them to their families and country. USO helps provide entertainment and connection to service members and their families. The organization has over 250 centers in 27 countries.