The Race to Save A Legacy

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“It is one thing to lose a beloved member of your family. It was quite another to learn of and witness his death so publicly on the World’s stage,” says Paula Foley. Foley was the Administrative Assistant to the Director of Special Education from 1998-2008 at TA. She also happens to be the beloved aunt of Jim Foley, the first American to be captured and beheaded by ISIS on camera in August of 2014.

Jim Foley was born into a very close-knit, supportive family all raised in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. John and Diane Foley had 5 13633_166019636751_701146751_3253811_9441_n (2)kids Jim being the oldest. Growing up, he was continuously someone who never stopped accomplishing amazing things, whether that be showing up to prom in a blue convertible top down and a baby blue tuxedo, or showing his vast knowledge on the game show “Granite State Challenge.” As he continued to grow, the amazing accomplishments never seised. After attending and graduating from Marquette University with a bachelor’s in history in 1996, Amherst in 2003 with a master’s of fine arts in fiction writing, and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in 2008, his career as a journalist took action.

He was absolutely passionate about his work,”

 says Paula Foley. She said how easy it was for him to make friends through his extensive traveling during and after college.

After taking a short break after being captured for the first time by forces under Moammar Gadhafi, Foley realized that, even though he was still doing what he loved, life behind the walls of an office was not for him. He wanted to take action and do something about the major issues taking place on the other side of the world.

So he made his way to Syria to help the fleeing refugees. “Jim was their voice until he was captured, imprisoned, and shockingly beheaded,” Paula said.

The family struggled and is still struggling with the death of such an important member of the family. Because Jim did so many amazing things, Paula Foley decided to do her part in remembering such an amazing human being. 

On October 17th (the weekend of Jim’s birthday), a 5k was hosted in Rochester New Hampshire honor of Jim Foley’s life and legacy. There was also a virtual 5k so people from around the globe could devote and share their remembrance as well. People from countries including Hong Kong, Australia, Ireland, Turkey, and France contributed to the virtual 5k showing just how much of an impact we can make if we all come together.

Tom Quentin, a cross-country coach and current substitute teacher, finished 4th out of 860 people. Quentin didn’t know Jim personally however, he did know his cousins Kelly and Dan. He shares how he lived across the street from Dan and looked up to as an athlete. He also went to school with Kelly and they have been good friends ever since.

Quentin said, “I hope it [the success of the race] sends a message that we aren’t going to let them [terrorist groups] dictate our freedom.  ISIS wants us to live in fear, but coming together for the race shows that we aren’t going to do that… Terrorist acts and other senseless acts of violence aren’t supposed to be part of our lives.  I really try not to rationalize those types of things.  If you can be a support to someone, I think it’s important to be there.  We have seen some pretty unfortunate things happen in our own community over the last few years, but those events have given us opportunities to show how strong and supportive we can be.”

In an interview posted May 27th, 2011 by the Boston Globe, Jim Foley expressed how he felt after his first capture in Libya. “You don’t want to be defined as that guy that got captured… I believe front line journalism is important [without it] we can’t tell the world how bad it might be.”

The race is an important first step in changing how we remember Foley. The world came to know him as a horrific target of ISIS violence on the world stage, but perhaps this event gives us an opportunity to celebrate him as the brave reporter who spent his life putting the truth above his own safety. His legacy should be as an amazing journalist who accomplished incredible things, but just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

This 5k was hosted by the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation. This foundation is devoted to advocating the release of American hostages, support press freedom and rights of freelance journalists, and promoting educational opportunities for disadvantaged youth. If you feel inspired to donate to this non-profit foundation got to http://www.foleyfoundation5k.org/

 The foundation’s goal is

 to inspire others to continue his work of giving voice to those who have none. ”

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