Beef Ambassadors attend Boston Marathon
Each year, the National Beef Ambassador team – a checkoff-sponsored program run by the American National CattleWomen – teams up with the Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative (NEBI) to promote beef at the Boston Marathon. While there, the ambassadors serve beef sticks to runners, their families and spectators. Of course, this year’s Boston Marathon ended in an explosion that stole the lives of three people and injured more than 280 individuals.
The ambassadors spent much of their time in a booth, located between the two explosions near the finish line of the race. The group including Katie Stroud, CA; Erin Morrison, MN; and Chandler Mulvaney, AL; is doing okay, but recounts the experience and reflects on the events in an exclusive interview for Tri-State Livestock News.
“We started our eight days of travel in Indianapolis at Purdue Ag Week,” said Morrison. “All the groups here on campus pick a different day to talk about their commodity, and we meet with the non-ag students to talk about agriculture. On beef day, we had a lot of games and interactive activities for the students.”
From Purdue, the ambassadors traveled to Boston to promote beef at the Boston Marathon Sports and Fitness Expo. They spent three days passing out four thousand 90 percent lean beef sticks to people in the area. The ambassadors agreed that those who stopped by the booth were genuinely interested in learning about beef as a healthy protein option to fuel their active lifestyles.
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“I think while we were there, we made a pretty positive impact,” said Morrison. “There were a lot of people who recognized the booth from year’s past, and they were happy to see us there. On the other hand, athletes have a lot of different ideas for what makes a healthy diet for an active lifestyle, so we ran into several vegetarians, too. We had cowbells and “fueled-by-beef” signs for spectators. I have never been a runner, but being around that lifestyle and community made me develop a heart for them. We talked to families and spectators, and their lifestyle is really fascinating to learn about.”
“On the day of the race, it was an exciting day in Boston. The thousands of people lined up along the street to watch really created an exciting event. People were there from the Boston Red Sox game to cheer, too. I really have an appreciation for the runners’ dedication and determination. They were there to finish the race and work hard,” added Mulvaney.
The ambassadors spent much of the morning standing at the finish line to watch the runners. They saw the elite runners cross the line, and anxiously waited for a Team Beef member to finish, so they could take a photograph. There were close to 20 people wearing Team Beef jerseys and proudly fueling up for the 26.2 mile race with beef, so the ambassadors wanted to show their support.
“We had a flight to catch and decided to take off early,” said Mulvaney. “We hopped in a taxi and about 20 minutes later, we received a phone call about the explosions. Our booth was in between the two bombs, and we had just left the finish line less than a half-hour before.”
“God had a hand in us not being there at the time of the explosions,” added Morrison.
“Cell phone service was cut off because the police suspected that’s how the bombs were set off, so we couldn’t text our parents to let them know we were okay,” explained Stroud. “We were on the last flight out of Boston before they closed the airport. We flew into Washington, D.C. for another beef promotion, and security was very tight when we arrived.”
Although the ambassadors were right at the heart of the race, they still had to receive information as it trickled in through texts, tweets and Facebook updates.
“When we heard about the bombs, I think the first thing for me was how family-oriented and community-oriented the atmosphere is, and my heart just broke to think about the people we met and those impacted. This is such a terrible thing that happened in such an awesome community,” said Stroud.
“After it happened, I worried about the runners, especially Team Beef runners, and was very concerned to learn if they were okay,” said Morrison. When we were actually watching the marathon, I say that God must have been watching over us that morning. We stood by the finish line for an hour because we wanted to get a photo of a Team Beef member crossing the finish line, so the fact that when we left when we did, we are very blessed. When we got to Washington, D.C., I felt a little bit of survivor’s guilt because Boston was really the only place I wanted to be. I almost felt cowardly for leaving because I felt such a connection with those people and not being able to be there. I just wanted to be back and help and comfort those people and help anyway I could.”
“By having the support of my teammates and being on the same flight together and spending a few days in D.C. together, we were able to calm each other down and give each other support. It was like having your family there,” said Mulvaney.
The group was in D.C. for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s annual fly-in and legislative conference, where they lobbied for key issues including the farm bill, immigration and country-of-origin-labeling.
The beef industry can be proud of the ambassadors who travel the country on the behalf of the nation’s cattlemen, promoting beef products. And, it’s a relief they weren’t hurt by the explosions in Boston.
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