Loyola Magazine

Running for Evan

Friends of Evan Girardi, '11, are running the Boston Marathon in his memory

You don’t meet many die-hard Red Sox fans whose dads are Yankee fans.

No wonder Brian De Sena, ’11, and Evan Girardi, ’11, became good friends.

“We both loved Boston sports,” De Sena recalled. Together they cheered on the Celtics and the Sox and tried to name great Red Sox players from their childhoods.

Girardi passed away suddenly at the start of his senior year, dying of a congenital heart defect. Today, his friends and family are determined to keep his memory alive.

“Evan was an amazing person. He always had a smile on his face,” De Sena said. “As bad as things may have been going on physically inside of him, one would have never known because of the amazing spirit and contagious smile he had.”

Last year De Sena decided to run the Boston Marathon in Girardi’s memory—raising money for Children’s Hospital, where Girardi had received treatment. This year De Sena and Sweeney are running to raise funds for Live For Evan, the scholarship fund Girardi’s family has established for students from his hometown, Hopkinton, Mass.

“Everyone jokes that we do these races for him because he would never run,” said De Sena, laughing. “He was lazy when it came to these kinds of things. All we do is run for this kid and he never ran.”

De Sena, who now lives in Manhattan and works in out-of-home advertising, enjoys using running as a way to stay in shape.

As he trains, he thinks of Girardi. “I do all my training by myself, so I have my music,” De Sena said. “But he’s always on my mind and keeping me motivated.”

Some of their Loyola friends came to the marathon last year, and they’ll be back to cheer De Sena and Sweeney on again this year.

“I’m so ready for it. It’s been a long winter to run. It was freezing this year, with the snow and the hurricane, it’s been brutal. The timing is perfect.”

“Last year was one of the hottest Boston Marathons ever. On mile 18, I was overcome by dehydration and collapsed on the sidelines. I was sitting there getting sick and receiving no help from the cop standing over me, but made sure to, in my drunken-like state, inform him that I would be finishing the race no matter what. While sitting there, I noticed two guys (Jacko Nealon and Ricky Odell) wearing Live For Evan shirts. These two guys were Evan’s friends from Hopkinton whom I had met prior. They were also running the marathon for Ev. I called over to them and they were able to help me stand up. As we were standing talking about my situation, a runner approached us asking if I was OK. He told us I needed to walk and not stand as I need to keep the blood circulating so I didn’t have a heart attack. The man was wearing a shirt with a Jesus on it. So of course we listened. After getting rehydrated, the three of us continued on and finished running the Boston Marathon together. Crossing that finish line as a team was one of the best moments in my life. Evan came through and got us to that finish line.”

Checks written to Live For Evan can be sent to P.O. Box 845, Hopkinton, Mass. 01748.

Since the writing of this article, the scholarship fund the Girardi family created in Evan's memory has grown and evolved into a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides temporary housing for families of children with congenital heart disease who need to travel into the Boston area to get their child care. Learn more about Live4Evan.