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The Most Meaningful of All the Miles

Donor Story

The Most Meaningful of All the Miles

After running several ultramarathons and marathons, Tommy Bruneau wants to cross an important race off his bucket list — and support veterans like his younger brother.

Kelsey Abbruzzese
February 14, 2024

As a longtime runner who has completed six ultramarathons and three marathons, Tommy Bruneau has logged plenty of memorable miles. But the 26.2-mile route of the Boston Marathon® remains on his bucket list for two reasons: First, he signed up to run the Boston Marathon in 2020; he ultimately had to run a quiet race on the marathon course with a few other runners when the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the full festivities in Boston and runners participated virtually. Second, he wanted to run to raise funds for Home Base, a nonprofit founded by Massachusetts General Hospital and the Boston Red Sox that is dedicated to healing the invisible wounds of war for Veterans of all eras, Service Members, Military Families and Families of the Fallen — like Tommy’s younger brother.

“I really wish my family knew about this organization during the few years my brother was struggling,” Tommy says. “He’s better now, but I think if we had known about Home Base, it would have been easier to get him the help he needed.”

A Proactive Approach

Tommy’s brother was on active duty for several tours in Afghanistan, which caused significant post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The family was at a loss for how to support him when he returned to the U.S. His condition wasn’t severe enough to warrant treatment from Veterans Affairs, but he desperately needed help managing his mental health. They eventually decided to involve the police — a choice they wished they didn’t have to make — to find options for support.

“The way veterans put their lives on the line for us? I don’t think there’s anything they need that we shouldn’t be able to give them,” Tommy says.

When Tommy came across Home Base in a Google search, he was impressed with their proactive approach in helping those who served. “They’re thinking about what’s next for veterans and how to support them,” he says, citing the program’s three-phase launch of mind-body health care for veterans and families that includes urban and rural partnerships like one with the Navajo Nation in Arizona. “You hope that you never need it, but if you do, they’re there for you.”

Finding Moments to Celebrate

For Tommy, April’s Boston Marathon will be a culmination of all of the days rising before the sun, the numerous long runs and the training it takes to reach the finish line on Boylston Street. It will also be a moment to think back on how far his brother has come — the lovely house and new life he’s built in Millville, Mass., close to Tommy’s home in Attleboro — and the thousands of veterans and families facing the same struggles.

“I just want the experience of running Boston,” Tommy says. “The race day should be the celebration, and I want to enjoy it and soak in every minute.

“I don’t care what time I finish,” Tommy adds. “The biggest hope I have for this race is that it creates more awareness of Home Base. My parents were doing so much legwork to get my brother the benefits he needed, and we didn’t know about the program at the time. If we can make just one more family aware of the services and resources available, that would be a huge win.”

If you would like to support Tommy, please visit his fundraising page.

To learn more about Home Base, click here.

To learn more about Mass General’s marathon team, click here.