Throughout his years of endurance adventures, Scot DeDeo has balanced his pursuits of speed and distance with a desire to make those miles benefit more than just himself.
Beginning with a charity bike ride in 2007 to raise funds for the New England Multiple Sclerosis Society on Martha’s Vineyard, DeDeo has spent the past 15 years putting his legs to work in support of noble causes. Inspired by his younger son, Nat, who in 2016 was diagnosed with a neurological condition called Neurofibromatosis, DeDeo’s fundraising efforts in recent years have been dedicated heavily to supporting NF Northeast, a nonprofit organization that advocates for, raises awareness of, and supports the families of people with Neurofibromatosis.
“Since then, I have really brought my long-distance running and fundraising up to a new level,” he said. “The long time alone gives time to work through what’s going on in life while finding a way to raise awareness and give back.”
DeDeo has been deeply troubled by much of the unrest in the United States and globally during the past few years, in particular the attacks on people based on their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or identity. He became even more disturbed by a slew of recent legislation in statehouses throughout the country targeting youth and their gender identities, as well as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February and the ensuing destruction of cities and slaughter of Ukrainian civilians. Like many, he wanted to do something to try to help, so the resident of Belmont, Mass., decided to do what he does best: put his legs to work.
In a March 25 Facebook post, DeDeo announced his plan of action.
“Today’s world contains too much hate; hate of people that don’t look like you, hate of people that don’t speak the same language as you, hate of people that act differently than you,” DeDeo wrote. “This problem has gotten worse in recent months with Russian dictators invading sovereign countries, American politicians legislating away identities, and people murdering others simply because they don’t like their skin color. If you aren’t heart broken by all of this, then you really aren’t paying attention. This run is to raise awareness that this is not ok and to raise funds to help those marginalized by those that are breeding hate. In this interconnected world, everyone knows someone from these marginalized groups and I believe it is our duty to stand up for what is right.”
Calling it the “Run to Stop the Hate,” DeDeo announced that he would run 50 miles from the Massachusetts State House to the Rhode Island State House to raise funds for two organizations, World Central Kitchen and the Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth (BAGLY).
World Central Kitchen was founded in 2010 by world renowned chef José Andrés, and the organization is known for its rapid response to feed the hungry in humanitarian and climate crises around the world. In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, World Central Kitchen mobilized in Ukraine and neighboring countries to feed refugees and others upended by the war. The organization’s army of chefs is currently providing nearly 300,000 meals daily for the Ukraine relief effort.
BAGLY is a youth-led, adult-supported social support organization that is committed to social justice and creating, sustaining, and advocating for programs, policies, and services for the LGBTQ+ youth community. It has been supporting LGBTQ+ youth in the Boston area for more than 40 years.
“Both of these organizations are so impressive with what they do,” DeDeo said.
At 6 a.m. on Saturday, April 2, DeDeo stood on the steps of the Massachusetts State House in Boston alongside Belmont Track Club friends Becca Pizzi, Lisa Engler, Karalyn Spadaro, Donal Reynolds, and Doug Hall and began the journey. DeDeo’s friends accompanied him for the first nine miles before he completed the remainder of the journey solo. He passed through the Boston Common and the Boston Public Garden, through the towns of Dedham, Norwood, and Walpole, and on to Foxborough and Attleboro, pausing to take photos of Ukraine and Pride flags along the way.
Other than a blister on his heel and a brief navigational miscalculation near Providence, the run went off without a hitch. His legs took a beating, particularly on the pavement during the final miles, but he successfully reached the Rhode Island State House in Providence 8:23:09 after he started.
Standing in front of the State House under a clear blue sky minutes after finishing his run, DeDeo recorded the following statement: “I’ve made it 50 miles, statehouse to statehouse. For all those affected by the recent crisis in Ukraine and the hate legislation that’s being passed across this country we just want to say that we stand with you and that it’s not ok.”
For DeDeo, the words of support and financial contributions people made to BAGLY and World Central Kitchen filled him with a sense of hope and optimism.
“The generosity and words of support always put a huge smile on my face,” he said. “This run, even more so, than some others that I have done as this run wasn’t about me, but about everyone that we want to support. The thank you messages received were truly heartfelt.
“As I took the train home and scanned through all the donations and messages of support I received, it showed that people really do care. While we may never convince some people to change their views and their actions towards others, it is uplifting to see how many people care and are willing to stand with you.”
The impact of DeDeo’s “Run to Stop the Hate” is still being calculated as the deadline for contributions is April 16, but it is already substantial. As of April 7 he has achieved his $1,000 fundraising goal for World Central Kitchen and raised $668 of his $1,000 target for BAGLY.
“As someone that has grown up with some privilege, I feel a responsibility to give back,” DeDeo said. “It means a lot to me to see others with the same view. While we didn’t solve any world problems with this event, I am optimistic that it serves as an example of what we can accomplish when we work together.”
While final contributions are still rolling in, DeDeo is planning his next fundraising effort. He will celebrate his 42nd birthday in August with his annual birthday run fundraiser to support NF Northeast. He also has a few other adventures in the works.
“Before that, I plan to get back up to the mountains,” he said. “I’ve tagged 35 of the New Hampshire 48 and am hoping to do a Hut to Hut traverse this summer. Additionally, my friends and I headed out to the San Juan Mountains for a running trip this fall. I’m always up for a new adventure and a challenge.”