The Next 26: One Charity Event for Every Mile of the Boston Marathon

Two friends have a year’s-worth of activities planned to honor the marathon victims.

Photo via The Next 26

Photo via The Next 26

Like most people in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, longtime friends Chris Mathison and Nicholas Leydon felt like they needed to do something to give back to the city.

But rather than devote one day to a cause or make a single donation, they decided they would create a year-long series of events to bring the community together and donate a portion of the money raised to the One Fund.

Mathison and Leydon created “The Next 26,” back-to-back happenings in and around Boston that started almost immediately after the attack on Boylston Street, and will culminate on the one-year anniversary of the bombing, on Marathon Monday, with a performance near the finish line.

“It’s kind of symbolic,” says Mathison, 32, a Wakefield native. “The idea of doing multiple events came about pretty easily. We said, ‘how many should we do? Well, there are 26 miles, let’s do 26 events.'”

The next event being put together by Mathison and Leydon is at Laugh Boston, a newly opened comedy club in Fort Point, on November 6. The event is called “Laugh Strong,” and will feature some of the city’s “best stand-up.”

Mathison says they have 15 events to go, and while some are already planned, much of the process has been off-the-cuff. “It’s a progression,” he says, adding that since starting the project, they’ve expanded the team to six people, so that they can get ahead of the schedule. “The events definitely come up fast. The good thing about it is no one has said no to us. If we go to a food place, or a vendor, everyone says yes, and offers to help. The outpouring of support has been huge, and there has been no struggling to find venues, or people to help feed all the volunteers we bring out.”

Already, group members have volunteered at the Greater Boston Food Bank, moving more than 21,000 pounds of food around the facility to help organize for the holidays, and hosted a successful blood drive with the American Red Cross.

Many of the upcoming plans are still “under wraps” as logistics are being worked out, says Mathison, but in January, they will do an event with Brooklyn Boulders in Somerville.

Mathison is in a local cover band, which will play a set at the Next 26’s final event on Marathon Monday at the Landsdowne Pub, the same place he was at when the bombs went off. This time, however, he will extend invitations to all the first responders and victims to cap off the The Next 26 series. “It will be a nice bookend to throw a celebration there a year later,” he says.

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