Tom O’Keefe: Running for Change
As Tom O’Keefe charges around the track during a recent running practice, he’s focused, pushing his legs and limits to the brink and back again and again.
O’Keefe is no stranger to hard work, and he certainly isn’t scared of being in the lead of a pack -- in running or life.
10 years ago, O’Keefe was known to most simply as “Boston Tweet.” Tired of having a desk job, he began using social media to help promote small businesses, raise money for charity, and create a virtual network.
In the early days of Boston Tweet he would tweet, eat, and run. His 280k+ followers on Twitter made him an early influencer for many brands, including running brands.
“When I ran my first race -- Falmouth Road Race -- I ran on a bib New Balance had given me,” O’Keefe said. “That race really changed my life and as I explored racing and running more, I realized, ‘oh, wow, this can get pretty pricey pretty quickly.”
While O’Keefe wanted to continue racing as much as he could, he looked around and noticed a lack of diversity in the sport of running locally; “I looked around and saw mostly white middle to upper class men who looked like me,” he said.
Wanting to change that, O’Keefe came up with a simple but effective solution: create a place where people could pool resources and allow people who wanted to enter and run races but couldn’t afford to a place to do so.
He named his solution Stride for Stride.
According to the website, “Stride for Stride believes everyone should have an equal opportunity to run. Therefore, we allocate 30% of our profits towards purchasing race bibs for those who can't afford to run.”
“There's no reason why money should prevent you from getting to the starting line, especially when crossing the finish line could change your life,” he said.
In just 3 weeks, Stride for Stride has raised almost $320 -- and that’s just from merchandise on the site, O’Keefe said. “Eventually, we will have our foundation up and running so that we can do even more good,” he said. “I just want everyone to have a chance to experience crossing a finish line like I did.”