Special Olympics New Hampshire was well represented at the 128th Boston Marathon® on Monday, April 15, 2024 by athletes, Liam McNeil and Thomas Cantara along with Liam’s Unified running partner, Assistant Director of the New Hampshire State Fire Marshal’s Office, Brian Allard.

Liam has been running since 2013, which, in itself is a big feat for him. He used a wheelchair until he was 3 years old and the first goal his doctors gave him was to ambulate 50 feet.  Now, after Liam McNeil and Brian Allard spent months training for the big race, they can check the 128th Boston Marathon® off their list. Liam says, “It was an amazing day that I’ll never forget, it was emotional near the end. Just reflecting on all our training and the amazing accomplishment that I just conquered. When it got hard, I thought about all my loved ones that were watching me and that kept me going, it was the best day of my life and I’d definitely do it again!”

This was Brian and Liam’s first-time running Boston. Brian says, “I had an amazing experience running the 128th Boston Marathon with Liam.  He is an inspirational young man who has a positive impact on everyone he meets. Observing his perseverance through every emotion during the marathon showed me how mentally tough he is.  The months of training leading up to the marathon were all worth it when I saw the smile on his face as he crossed the finish line.  I couldn’t have imagined running the Boston Marathon with anyone else.”

Throughout the training process, Liam and Brian have bonded in many ways. Liam says his favorite part of training with Brian is, “We have so much in common! We both love running, skiing, golfing, and classic rock. We always have lots to talk about during long runs.” The two have decided to continue running together following Boston.

Brian and Liam finished the race in 4:19:26, which is an average of 9:54 minutes per mile! There is still time to support their run! Visit https://fundraising.sonh.org/event/sonh-runs-the-boston-marathon/home to learn more and support them.

Special Olympics of New Hampshire’s Thomas Cantara, of Nashua, ran the race in person for the sixth time this year and he can now say he is a Boston Marathon prize winner! This year the Boston Athletic Association introduced a new Para-Athletics Division for athletes competing with intellectual disabilities known at the T-20 Division. Thomas crossed the finish line with a time of 2:35:23, which placed him at 242 out of the total 26,482 runners. He also received the first place prize in the Para T-20 divison.

Thomas says, “It was a tough day and I did not expect a personal best time so I went into it staying as relaxed as possible and focus on just winning the division.  I felt fatigue early and at times wanted to give up or walk, but my focus was just stay relaxed and finish to fight through the mental challenges.  I focused on my breathing being ok and my legs felt fine.  I did sway a little bit at times in the later miles.  Winning my division felt great and I still can’t believe I am a Boston champion!  It meant the years of hard work I put in has really paid off and I always wanted to be a pro athlete.  I never expected running to be it.  But it is still a dream come true!”

Congratulations to Thomas, Liam and Brian! To learn more about Running for SONH and upcoming Millennium Running events, visit https://www.sonh.org/running-for-special-olympics/