Bostonia is published in print three times a year and updated weekly on the web.
On May 19, a Scottish reservist deployed in Afghanistan donned a muscled Batman suit and ran 16.2 miles through the 100-degree heat of Helmand Province, all for a very good reason: to raise money for the victims of the April 15 Boston Marathon bomb attacks—including $314 for the scholarship fund established by the University to honor BU graduate student Lu Lingzi (GRS’13), who was killed in the bombings.
Staff Sergeant John Castle, 45, who ran alongside US Marines at Camp Leatherneck, admits that the full-body costume “got a wee bit hot around the chest area,” but he still came in well ahead of the main field, with a time of 2 hours and 16 minutes.
Castle, who is serving a six-month tour, is the squadron quartermaster sergeant for the small contingent of British servicemen attached to the US Marine Corps headquarters, responsible for their accommodation, food, vehicles, and equipment.
The Scottish sergeant from Dundee requested special permission to run in costume—outlandish clothing is usually prohibited—to pique the interest of sponsors. “I thought it would be a great idea to raise funds, and the dafter the better,” he says. “The Batman suit was sent out by my wife, who thinks I have lost the plot and did not ask why.”
He is one of more than 1,200 donors from 28 countries who have collectively contributed over $900,000 to the Lu Lingzi Scholarship Fund. Lu was one of 3 people who lost their lives in the Marathon blasts, which injured more than 260. Originally from Shenyang, China, she studied international trade at the Beijing Institute of Technology and was pursuing statistics at BU, where she excelled in her classes.
“The outpouring of generosity around this scholarship has been incredible and humbling,” says Scott Nichols, BU’s senior vice president for development and alumni relations. “Talk about going the extra mile. This gentleman went the extra 16 miles—in the desert, wearing what amounts to long johns, a mask, and a cape—to honor Lingzi’s memory by helping us provide aid for future students in her name. We smile at the means of the gift, but we’re also touched and grateful.”
Castle plans to put his super suit back on to run the 2014 London Marathon next April. He was “chuffed to bits” that he was able to contribute to the recovery of the Marathon bombing victims and their families. “It’s easy for me—I just had to keep running,” he says. “It won’t be that easy for them.”