Eleven Bananas

Bunch of bananas isolated on white background

On a Tuesday evening four weeks ago, I sat in my friend’s house with three other members of the Acton-Boxborough United Way (ABUW). We were in charge of the ABUW 1st Annual Em-Power 5k Race, the clock was ticking, and we had a lot to discuss. The purpose of the race is to raise money for and awareness of ABUW’s Healthy Teen Initiative. Read more about it HERE.

Logistics dominated the conversation…designing the t-shirts, finding sponsors, mapping the course, coordinating with the West Acton Merchants, advertising, looking for food & drink donations, etc. None of us had ever done this before, and we didn’t want to screw up, especially when it came to the post-run food. As a Jewish mother, this was especially important to me.

(cue husky NYC grandmother voice) The Runnahs are   Gonna.   Need.    BANANAHS!

We all nodded, our faces serious, our minds heavy with the responsibility of caring for our runners. The obvious question: would a local supermarket be willing to donate bananas?

I turned to our fearless leader, Madam President Jennifer Stone, and asked her exactly how many bananas we were going to need. She took her phone out of her bag, opened her email, and looked at us with a straight face.

‘We have exactly eleven runners signed up right now.’



Yep. Eleven people were signed up to do this race. Our original goal was 250 runners, so hearing the number 11 made us realize we forgot one very important piece to planning a race: You need runners.

Eleven Bananas became our humorous code word for everything. We have a long way to go. Eleven Bananas. We have a lot of work to do. Eleven Bananas. None of us wanted this race to fail, and eleven bananas became our symbol.

Tragedy hit our community last week, leaving everyone reeling. It was as if a very thin, worn rug was pulled out from all of us, threatening the structure and strength of our community. Everything felt disjointed, scary, precarious.

To a large extent, things continue to feel that way. Recovery and healing from these losses is going to take a lot of time.

However, I can offer you a glimmer, well actually, more than a glimmer of hope. We are going to need more than eleven bananas. As of this morning, we have 176 kids, teens and adults signed up to do the Em-Power 5k, and many more have come forward to volunteer to help with day-of race logistics.  The number of people who have signed up to do the race in the past week has been incredible. This race represents our resiliency and our ability to find a new way to move forward together.

There’s still time to register. Click here to sign up.

I’ll end today’s post with a funny side-note: If you are one of the people doing the run this weekend, don’t get your hopes up about diving into a really good looking banana at the end of the race, because there’s a new banana in town & it’s called ‘the granola bar’. I’m not quite sure how bananas ended up getting vetoed, and plan to file my complaint in the suggestion box…makes for a lousy ending to my story.


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