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Gaffney ’24 Running Boston Marathon for Hole in the Wall Gang Camp

Morgan Gaffney runs around a track in a meet
Morgan Gaffney ’24 ran for her high school team in Thetford, Vermont.

If you’re cheering on Boston Marathon runners on Patriots’ Day, save one for Journalism major Morgan Gaffney ’24 on her way to the finish line.

Gaffney talked to Emerson Today about why she’s running, how she balanced training and school work, and fundraising.

Q: Why are you running the Boston Marathon?

Gaffney: I had been wanting to run it for a few years now; my mom did it six times when I was a kid, and I always knew I was going to do it someday. Once I moved to Boston for college, the possibility seemed more real, and then this year, the opportunity presented itself, and I took it! I’ve also been a runner since a young age, and I’ve always wanted to challenge myself with something like that. 

Q: What’s your running experience?

Gaffney: I was on the cross country team from fifth grade through senior year of high school, as well as the track team from sixth grade through my senior year. I loved the team spirit on the running teams; it was not about competition and being the best like it was in some other sports, but doing well for yourself, and always encouraging your teammates to do the best they could, too. No one blamed anyone if we didn’t place, but instead still applauded ourselves even if we didn’t have our best races, and looked forward to doing better in future races. 

Q: Is this your first marathon?

Gaffney: This is my first marathon, and I hope that after this one, I feel like doing many more. 

Q: How have you balanced training with school work?

Gaffney: Fitting in training has definitely been difficult, and really just meant I had to focus on time management. I try to go to bed pretty early so I can get up to go to the gym, or do homework in the morning, so I have time to go to the gym in the evening. I am lucky enough to work at a gym, so I’d often get in a workout or treadmill run before or after my shift. I always did long runs on Saturdays and Sundays, trying to hit the pavement as early as possible, or just fitting them in wherever I could. Training became really fun for me after a while, and instead of being stressed to fit it in my day, I would look forward to being able to do it. Homework really came in wherever I could fit it, a lot of times in the morning if I was planning on working out that night, or when I got home from a workout and had some extra time in the morning. I also made sure to just give myself a lot of grace, and that if I couldn’t fit in a workout, it was not the end of the world and wasn’t going to ruin my training. 

Q: Why are you running for Hole in the Wall Gang Camp?

Gaffney: I am running for the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp because it is a place very close to my heart. I was lucky enough to go, because although I don’t have a serious disease or disability that are qualifiers to attend, my mom volunteered as a nurse, and could bring my siblings and I as campers.

Hole in the Wall and her sister camps are unlike any place on earth, and really can’t be fully described to anyone who has never been. There is love and pure joy felt at literally every moment being there. After only a week spent with your cabin mates, other campers, and counselors, you feel like you’ve known them your whole life. Hole in the Wall really focuses on making every kid feel special, loved, appreciated, and just brings out the absolute best in everyone.

Summer camp is such a great experience for kids, and Hole in the Wall focuses on catering to kids whose accommodations for diseases or disabilities might not be met at other summer camps, making sure everything needed is provided, not to mention it is entirely cost-free. Campers and their families do not need to worry about any resources or accommodations they might need, and just get to focus on having fun for a week at summer camp.

Q: How much have you raised?

Gaffney: At this moment in time, I have raised $8,500 – 100 percent of my fundraising goal! But I hope to go beyond that in the coming weeks when donations are still open. I want to give back as much as possible to a place that changed my life and made me who I am today.

Q: How has the Emerson community supported you in running the Boston Marathon?

Gaffney: Everyone at Emerson who knew about my fundraiser has been so supportive, helping me get the word out, and donating what they could. Because people are so driven and always working on projects here at Emerson, I feel the community just saw this as another endeavor of a fellow Emersonian they were happy to support. The alumni network has been especially amazing, contributing so much to my fundraiser and cheering me on this whole experience. 

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself, your Emerson experience, or running the Boston Marathon?

Gaffney: I feel like what I have learned from this experience is to pursue challenges and things that make you excited and proud of what you are doing. All year, I have loved having something to work for and look forward to, and to be doing it all for a place I hold so close to my heart. I never thought I would be able to balance school, work, and training, but the beauty of Emerson is we are all always pursuing outside projects that we are passionate about, and for me, the marathon was no different than a creative project; Emerson is built on the foundation of allowing and encouraging students this kind of freedom and desire to create outside the regular curriculum. What I would say to people thinking about doing a marathon, or some other crazy endeavor, is DO IT! If it makes you excited and joyous, you will want to put in the work, and you will surprise yourself with how much you are capable of. 

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