The Strength of Community: Great Hill Partners’ Becca Keddy Runs 2023 Boston Marathon in Support of the Youth Advocacy Foundation
For Becca Keddy, Great Hill Partners’ Vice President of Finance, the morning of the 2023 Boston Marathon began in the firm’s headquarters at 200 Clarendon Street where she was relaxing before the big race: drinking water, watching marathon news coverage on TV, and enjoying an English muffin with Nutella. As she had done two times before, Becca began her trek to the marathon’s starting point in Hopkinton – feeling equal parts dread and excitement.
In April of 1897, only fifteen people ran the first-ever Boston Marathon. 126 years later, the marathon boasts almost 30,000 participants annually and has become a cultural event for the city. For most Bostonians “Marathon Monday” is a holiday – one best celebrated by carrying home-made signs and megaphones, and cheering themselves hoarse as runners snake through the city on the famous 26.2-mile route. It is this electric energy that initially inspired Becca to run the marathon. “I think by living in Boston you get the itch to want to run when you see the marathon happening every year,” she says. “I run in Boston because of the energy of the people.”
Believe it or not, prior to running the Boston Marathon in 2019, which was her first marathon ever, Becca was “not a runner.” To participate in the Boston Marathon, a runner can either qualify or race on behalf of a charity through the Boston Athletic Association’s Official Charity Program. Becca chose the latter, donning her first bib in 2019 for the Youth Advocacy Foundation (YAF). The YAF, a non-profit arm of the Massachusetts juvenile public defender agency, has been working for twenty years to protect and defend Massachusetts’ most vulnerable youth. They focus on providing training in education advocacy to youth advocates, especially juvenile public defenders, as well as spearheading several policy-changing movements in the state of Massachusetts.
Becca learned about the YAF through her wife, Heather, who is a social worker and worked in a public defender’s office in Fall River, where she first witnessed the life-changing work that the YAF supports. When Heather “opened [Becca’s] eyes” to how the YAF is helping vulnerable kids, Becca knew that was the program for which she wanted to run. Since that first race in 2019, Becca has run for the Youth Advocacy Foundation in 2021 and 2023, and she campaigned for them in 2020.
Over these four years, Becca has raised over $66,000 in funds for the YAF, a feat that she says would have been “impossible without her Great Hill team” who have not only offered financial support, but emotional support as well. John Dwyer, Chief Financial Officer, would remind Becca of her training, encouraging her to run, even and especially when she didn’t feel like it. Chris Gaffney, Managing Director and Co-founder, hand-delivered Becca the banana bread that his wife, Karen, bakes every training season. Becca says, “It was amazing to see my family – my wife, daughter, and parents – during the race,” cheering her on alongside her colleagues who “also really feel like family to me.” Some even held poster cutouts of Becca’s cats, making them easier to spot in the crowds. Knowing she was going to see her people at the finish line is what kept Becca going.
Becca illuminates the inherent paradox of the marathon runner – it is a deeply individual sport, but one that can feel impossible without a buoyant community behind you. After all, as Becca says, “It’s terrible, but it’s fun.”