7’s Alaina Pinto running Boston Marathon for Ronald McDonald House at Boston Harbor

BOSTON (WHDH) - Training for the Boston Marathon is a solo mission, just you and the ground under your feet for mile after mile.

This year, 7News’ Alaina Pinto is running her first marathon and when that solitary training gets tough, there’s a special cause that’s keeping her going.

Alaina is running as part of the Ronald McDonald House Boston Harbor charity team. The organization leases and operates 10 apartments for out-of-town families with critically ill children who come to Boston for medical care. The cost to each of those families? It’s all free.

Last year, Ronald McDonald House Boston Harbor served families from 10 different countries and 22 different states, according to Ellen Simmons, the group’s director of development. On a map mounted on an office wall, each family who comes to stay at Ronald McDonald House is represented by a tack. Each tack, a different family with a different struggle.

Simmons herself will be running her sixth marathon this month. “I get such energy from the charity runners I work with,” she says. “Especially runners like [Alaina] who have never run Boston before. That really feeds my soul with excitement.”

In addition to family-style apartments, Ronald McDonald House also has a common area where families can share a meal, play a game or meet others who are also in town for medical treatment.

“They come from a world where they are so unique in their circumstances,” Simmons says. “Then they get to the Ronald McDonald house and regardless of what the diagnosis is, they’re going through this with families who are right there along with them.”

Ronald McDonald House saved families more than half a million dollars last year, according to Simmons. But the work of fundraising is never done.

“Our Ronald McDonald House marathon team is our biggest supporter,” she says. “One hundred percent of the funds raised by people like [Alaina] comes directly back to the house.”

So far the charity team, which includes Alaina and three other runners, has raised more than $50,000.

Click here or more information on Alaina’s run and the Ronald McDonald House.

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