by Matt Lombardi
I was fortunate to play competitive hockey for more than 20 years, and from my earliest days lacing up my skates, I knew Corey Griffin. We were teammates. We were opponents. But more importantly, we were friends.
Corey and I grew up near each other, and I always felt like we were close. That shouldn’t be surprising, though. Just about every person who knew Corey was close with him. He made you feel like you were sincerely his best friend, whether you talked to him every day or only a couple of times a year.
He truly had a gift.
His ability to connect with people and his desire to help others was unprecedented. I never met someone who was so authentically passionate about giving back.
After his passing in 2014, his family and friends created the Corey C. Griffin Foundation to carry on his mission of helping others. The Foundation seeks to improve the lives of primarily Bostonarea children through partnerships with educational and healthcare institutions. The hope is that the children who benefit from the organization — “Corey’s Kids” as they are lovingly known — will help carry on Corey’s legacy for years to come.
What began as an ode to Corey quickly became a movement. The Foundation has raised millions of dollars to support the families of pediatric patients at Boston Children’s Hospital, provide scholarships to students at Saint John Paul II Catholic Academy, send underprivileged children to the Ron Burton Training Village, and much more.
Plus, it’s hard to walk around Boston and not see someone wearing a “CG” hat or shirt.
Last year, one of my best friends, Andrew Orpik, ran the Boston Marathon on the Corey C. Griffin Foundation team. He and his two other teammates helped raise more than $64,000 for the organization. Andrew and I talked about his experience the evening after he finished the Marathon. As we were talking, I felt incredibly inspired by how the fundraising efforts would impact “Corey’s Kids”.
I’ve always stayed in pretty good shape, but I’ve never run a marathon, so I knew this wasn’t going to be easy. Before I began training for the 2018 Boston Marathon, the most I’d ever run at one time was probably about three or four miles.
But I wanted the challenge. And more importantly, I wanted to give back.
I’m honored to be one of six runners who will represent the Corey C. Griffin Foundation during this year’s Boston Marathon. I have to admit, I’ve enjoyed the training process. Those that know me know I can be intense when it comes to working out. Corey would laugh to see how serious I am in preparing for the Marathon, but I know I’m not just training for myself. I’m training for him, the Griffins, and I’m training for everyone impacted by the Foundation.
We’re mere days away from the Marathon, and I think I’ve put myself in as good of a position for it as I can. There’s still a lot that’s unknown. What will the weather be like? How will my body feel? I’ve been battling Achilles tendinitis that’s limited some of my training. But come race day, if it flares up, I’m planning on just battling through it.
I had a goal to raise $15,000 for the Foundation by race day, and I’m so excited to say I’ve hit that! Thank you to everyone who helped me get there.
Long after the Marathon is over, I will continue to promote the Foundation and the support it provides. It’s amazing that what began as a movement to rally around Corey’s spirit is now an incredible public charity with thousands of donors that raises millions of dollars to benefit children in need.
The Foundation’s reach and impact shows how many people are inspired to help “Corey’s Kids” and give them a chance to succeed, regardless of their circumstances.
It’s often said that the secret to living is giving, and that’s something that Corey emulated incredibly well. I hope that by running this Marathon and raising awareness for the Corey C. Griffin Foundation, I can give back to Corey’s Kids in a way that would make Corey proud.
Matt Lombardi grew up in the Boston area and currently lives in the South Shore with his fiancé Nastia. Together, they co-founded Grander, an app that is a community for the next generation of female athletes. He is one of the runners on the 2018 Corey C. Griffin Foundation Boston Marathon team.