Meet the Samaritans 2018 Boston Marathon Team (Part 1)

The Samaritans 2018 Boston Marathon Team is off to a great start, with more than $14,500 raised toward our team goal of $145,000! The 12 dedicated individuals on this team are loss survivors, volunteers, and callers that have benefited from our Helpline. They are taking on 26.2 miles to raise funds and support Samaritans’ life saving services.

Each month, we’ll be highlighting three members of our outstanding team to share their stories. This month, meet Andrea, Jorge and Laura:

Andrea Coppola Mendes

I am honored to be part of the 2018 Samaritans Boston Marathon team for my third year!  I am running for the Samaritans in memory of my twin sister, Joann. My family and I lost Joann in September of 2014. My mom, my dad, my little sister Renee and I will not allow Joann’s light to go out. We continue to celebrate her life. We know that she is always with us now and we see her in a beautiful sunset, a flower or a bird, flying effortlessly and freely. We miss her every day and find comfort in telling stories about the wonderful memories she has given us.

Joann was a beautiful and caring person. She gave tirelessly of her time and was a dedicated and hard-working physical therapist. When she wasn’t working, Joann enjoyed spending time with family and friends. She was the one who would walk into a room and light it up. She loved to wear fancy clothes and shoes….and big hats. Joann didn’t leave home without her bold red lipstick. She loved traveling, spending time outdoors and taking care of dogs. Joann would often send us pictures of things that brightened her day, like a farm scene, the ocean, a flower, or a smiling dog.

Joann provides my inspiration to take another journey with the 2018 Samaritans Boston Marathon team. I cannot do this alone. I look forward to the long runs through the beautiful winter season. I ask for your support in efforts to reach my goal of raising $10,000 for suicide awareness. Please help us in celebration of Joann’s life!

Andrea is originally from Tewksbury, MA and currently resides in Andover with her family and faithful 17-year-old dog. She is a physical therapist and an educator. Check out her fundraising page at Andrea Coppola Mendes and see her video at #MilesAndMemories.

Jorge Gonzalez

Hi! My name is Jorge Gonzalez. I’m a 21-year-old college student in the Boston area. I grew up in San Antonio, TX with my parents and two older brothers. In 2014, I moved to Cambridge for college. I’m currently a senior studying Mechanical Engineering at MIT.

I’ve been passionate about suicide prevention for a long time. When I was 11 years old, two of my cousins took their own lives. For me, one of the most difficult parts of losing a friend or family member to suicide is the feeling of utter helplessness that follows their death. In my time at MIT, I’ve lost classmates, friends, and a fraternity brother to suicide. For me, knowing that there were people in my community who were struggling to this degree was heartbreaking.

This past September, I lost someone important to me to suicide. As that same feeling of helplessness began to set in, I decided I wanted to do something to help prevent others from taking their own life. So I applied to be one of Samaritan’s 12 charity runners in the 2018 Boston Marathon.

I’m honored that Samaritans accepted me as one of their runners this year. My hope is that by running the Boston Marathon for suicide prevention, I can both honor the friends and family that I’ve lost while working to support those struggling with suicide or suicidal thoughts. This will be my first time running a marathon, and I’m excited for the opportunity to run it for such meaningful and noteworthy cause.

Support Jorge’s $8,000 goal at Jorge Gonzalez and check out his video at #LacingUpForLife

Laura Owen

I’m running for hope. I’m running to prevent suicide. I’m running to let people know they aren’t alone. I am running for life. 

It has always been my dream to run the Boston Marathon for Samaritans. It is an honor to be a part of the Samaritans Marathon Team to raise funds and awareness for a cause that is so close to my heart. My connection with Samaritans began several years ago when my brother, Garrett, worked as the development manager at Samaritans. Samaritans’ mission resonated with me personally. My passion for suicide prevention grew and my desire to give back to Samaritans magnified.

Every 14 hours, someone in Massachusetts dies by suicide. It often leaves family and loved ones in shock, wondering “Why?” Too many families have suffered this painful loss, but there is hope. Suicide can be prevented. You can help save lives by supporting me today. All proceeds will benefit Samaritans’ suicide prevention services including the 24/7 Crisis Services phone and text Helpline; Suicide Prevention Workshops for schools, businesses, and community groups; and Grief Support Services for those who have lost someone to suicide.

As the Assistant Director of Health & Wellness at Emerson College, I work on suicide prevention on the individual student level and the community campus level by organizing campus-wide events that bring awareness to mental health issues. I am determined to find more ways to help support college students who are struggling with depression and loneliness. Annually, 1,100 college students die by suicide. Samaritans has been a life-saving resource for students.

I am so excited to experience Patriot’s Day as a runner in 2018.  This will be my first marathon. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, scuba diving, snowboarding and Zumba. I am so grateful and appreciative of Samaritan’s work with those who are struggling every day and the survivors. I can’t wait to cross the finish line for Samaritans!!!!

Laura grew up in Bow, NH and currently resides in Quincy. Check out her fundraising page at Laura Owen and see her video at #LauraRunsForLife.