For years, Fenway Park has been a second home for Erin Burgoyne, manager of the EMC Club and Dugout Services. So crossing home plate as part of the Run to Home Bases 9K on May 23 may not seem like much to someone so familiar with the dirt and grass of that venerable ball park.
But on a day such as that one, when love and support will be provided to thousands of military veterans, it will mean plenty.
"I think it will be a different experience for me," said Burgoyne, who comes from a family with strong military ties. "I’ll be crossing home plate for a different reason. I’ll think more about the hope that we as an organization and myself help to raise awareness through the walls of Fenway."
Through early May, Burgoyne had used her ties to clients across New England to raise over $10,000 for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injuries (TBI), the mission behind the race.
With an outpouring of support for the Home Base Foundation, she sees herself as just a facilitator through which the funds can funnel. Those who have donated are doing all the work, she said.
"This has hit home for a lot of people," Burgoyne said. "The reason I’ve raised so much money is because of the clients that I represent here at the Red Sox, it hits very close to home for so many of them with family members, whether it be nephews or nieces or cousins or parents."
For Burgoyne, respect for the military was instilled in her at a young age while growing up in Waltham. Grandfathers on both sides of the family served in World War II. Her great uncle, John "Jackie" McLaughlin, died in the Korean War. And her uncle Billy Walls served in Vietnam.
Still, Burgoyne has found that the issues of PTSD and TBI are new to many. She learned this in large part due to feedback from donors, but also because so many of those who return from duty do so in such a reserved fashion.
"You don’t know because a lot of it they don’t want to talk about it because they are so modest," said Burgoyne. "They are heroes. They don’t boast, they don’t say anything. They keep it to themselves. They [serve] because that is what they want to do and … they have that patriotic pride that many of us wish we had. We do have pride in our country but they take it to a completely different level and there’s sometimes no way to thank them."
Sometimes. But not on May 23, when the efforts of Burgoyne and many others will provide support, both financially and symbolically, to struggling veterans and their families.
"I feel like there’s just so much more we can do," Burgoyne added. "I think this is a good start."