After Marie DiDonato and her husband attended our Annual Gala as a guest of honorary chair Emily DiDonato, she went home and started to research ways to get involved with our organization. At the same time, she was also looking for a way to challenge herself physically when she came across the opportunity to run on Team Answer the Call during the 2016 New York City Marathon. Marie knew this was the perfect way to accomplish both goals and she is now signed up to represent The Benefit Fund by running on November 6th alongside tens of thousands of other people from all over the world.
The Benefit Fund’s mission of supporting the families of New York City’s First Responders is one that is close to Marie’s heart considering the fact that her grandfather, father and husband all have served in the New York City Police Department. After her husband was seriously injured while on the job in 2014, it really hit home for her the real risks that first responders face everyday and how fortunate she is that her husband was able to make a full recovery. She also feels for the families who were not as fortunate and believes it is, “an honor to run on Team Answer the Call, because I understand the important and great work that is being done to support these families who are living their worst nightmare.”
As both a wife and new mother, Marie is still struggling to find a way to manage the fears that she has about her husband’s safety, but tries to focus her energy on just supporting him rather than constantly thinking about her own concerns. However, she does have a great role model that she takes advice from, her mother. Growing up, Marie said that her mother did a great job of shielding her from the risks her father faced at work and she is taking tips of how to do the same for her own son. Marie’s husband also has a father who was a New York City first responder and he served in the FDNY for nearly twenty years. He mostly has positive memories about firehouse barbeques and family hikes and overall just thought his dad’s job was really cool. Together, Marie and her husband have unique experiences that they can draw upon to raise their own family.
All of these prior life experiences provide motivation and inspiration for Marie as she begins training for the marathon this fall. Most of all, it comes down to helping the families of fallen first responders and doing her part to show her support: “Even if you’re not from a police or fire family, everyone can envision losing the person that is most important to them and the huge hole that would leave in their life. I really feel for these families that are going through that and want to do anything I can to help support them”.
We wish Marie the best of luck in training and can’t wait to cheer her on in November!
This interview was conducted by Eleni Petridis, Summer 2016 Development Intern, and has been edited for readability.