Milford High graduate runs Boston Marathon to honor brother

Jackie Creasey reaches over the barricade to grab her brother’s alligator stuffed animal from her mom during the final stretch of the April 15 Boston Marathon. (Submitted photo/Nick Creasey)

Before she crossed the finish line, Jackie Creasey scanned the crowd in search of her parents.

Once she spotted them, she ran over and reached over the barricade for her brother’s stuffed animal.

Ms. Creasey, a 2007 Milford High graduate, crossed the Boston Marathon finish line with the stuffed animal in hand to honor her brother, Alex Creasey.

Jackie Creasey, middle, poses with her teammates following the marathon. She described the Monday race as “the most beautiful day of my life” via Instagram. (Submitted photo)

“When I was on the last stretch, I found my mom,” Ms. Creasey explained. “I wanted to cross the finish line with Alex’s stuffed animal, so she handed it off to me.

“It’s an alligator, he got it when he was maybe 2 or 3. I don’t even remember when I decided I wanted to do that, but I told my mom I wanted to, so I made sure to find her on that last stretch.”

The April 15 race was Ms. Creasey’s first-ever marathon. She was running it for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) in honor of her younger brother who passed away at the age of 19 on Jan. 25, 2018.

“I think this was really a great day for my parents,” said Creasey. “A really emotional day, of course there were some hard parts to it, but I think it was really nice to have a day that was meant for Alex, dedicated to Alex.

“They were able to appreciate how much the community came together for them and it was just truly a perfect day.”

Leading up to the marathon, Ms. Creasey and her six team members, who were also running for the AFSP, each raised funds through a Crowdrise.com page. Ms. Creasey’s page alone reeled in more than $25,000 in donations.

The donations ranged from family members and friends, to classmates, co-workers and acquaintances of all ages.

“We’re so grateful,” she said. “The community was just so generous with their donations that I didn’t even have to fundraise. I still plan to write one more post about how much it meant to have the community there for us. They made this entire thing possible.”

Each of the other five team members added another $5,600 or more in donations, with one team member bringing in over $16,000 in donations for the AFSP cause.

“It was great. Everyone has their own story that they are representing for ASFP, so everyone had their own struggle and it was just so meaningful,” she said of her running teammates. “We got closer and closer and on race day it was just a really special day because we all had our person that we were running for.”

Though she didn’t finish quite as fast as she would have liked, the entire training process and race day experience, with her team members by her side, was rewarding for Ms. Creasey and her family.

“I definitely had faster goals for myself, but it was a very warm day, so we were a little unprepared since we trained through the winter, but it was just an absolutely amazing day.

“As I was running, the two teammates I ran with we talked at mile 17 and we just sort of let go of our pre-race expectations. I’m really happy we did because I started to have so much fun once I finally let go of that.”

In attendance to watch Ms. Creasey compete in the marathon were her parents, her brother and sister-in-law and their kids, her boyfriend and two more of her friends from home.

Ms. Creasey says many more friends and family members were able to live-stream the marathon to watch her from home.

Throughout the race, Ms. Creasey spotted her family members in the crowd at least four times, including the final stretch.

“It was amazing. I was able to see everyone, but my brother and his kids, four times throughout the race, which was pretty incredible to be able to see them that many times,” she said. “My boyfriend kind of gave me an idea of the towns that they would be in, but you still have to search for them pretty hard. I kept picking out my mom and dad. They were the two people I was most looking for, so as soon as I was in a town I knew they were in I just looked for either of them. I found them every time.”

The stuffed animal wasn’t the only thing Jackie used to honor her brother.

“I wrapped my hair with orange. Orange is for loss of sibling, so I wrapped my braids with orange so that I had something for that,” she said. “Then we all had a tank top for American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.”

Afterward, Ms. Creasey and her family and friends attended an after-party and hung out together at her Boston-area apartment for the night.

While the marathon is in the rear-view mirror, Ms. Creasey doesn’t plan on stopping her involvement with the AFSP.

She has her sights set on another Boston Marathon, if possible, as well.

“This entire process has been so therapeutic,” she said. “I think it has been for my family as well, so I very much needed a purpose and I feel like I found the best possible one that I could find.

“I plan to stay involved with Out of the Darkness walks and things within the Boston community, and then just take it from there and see if it’s even possible to do the Boston Marathon again. But I’m going to stay involved with AFSP one way or another.”

Ms. Creasey says she will continue to keep her Instagram page, @BostonStrong_for_Alex_, updated as she continues to stay involved with the AFSP through fundraising and events.

Reach staff writer Ben Heck at bheck@newszap.com

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