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Lewis County native spearheads fundraiser in honor of Boston Marathon bombing victims

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BOSTON — Fundraising efforts to create a memorial to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings are underway, spearheaded by Lewis County native Philip J. Rectra, now of Allston, Mass.

Mr. Rectra grew up in Lowville, son of Joan and Eulogio Rectra. After graduating from Lowville Academy in 1986, he attended Boston College and then remained in the Boston area. He took with him “a deep sense of community,” he said, “which was a huge part of my upbringing in the north country.”

That sense of community and coincidental location — living less than a mile from where Suspect No. 2 was captured — were not what prompted Mr. Rectra to take immediate action and mobilize support for the memorial.

“The marathon is a personal event for me,” he said. “Our family took special trips to Boston to see the race when I was young. My brother completed the marathon in the mid-’90s, and every year I attend to cheer on the runners. It’s a worldwide event, but it’s the Boston community’s announcing of spring. You can be a spectator and support complete strangers who all have the same goal — to run 26.2 miles.”

The tragic event at this year’s marathon had a ripple effect, according to Mr. Rectra.

“Two friends of mine missed the first bomb blast by 30 minutes,” he said. “People I know have friends who were seriously injured, and I live less than a mile from Watertown, Mass., where the massive manhunt took place.”

Reflection on the events, Mr. Rectra said, “compelled me to create something permanent in memory of those lost, and in honor of those who risked their lives in pursuit of the attackers.”

All funds donated to the cause will be used for the project, as Mr. Rectra will volunteer his time to coordinate and plan it.

Just what form the memorial will take has yet to be defined.

“The scope of the project will be a direct reflection of the amount of funds raised,” Mr. Rectra said. “At a minimum, it will be a sculpture located in a public place that will represent the spirit of the greater Boston community.”

Mr. Rectra would like to see it resemble a sculpture titled “Winged,” by Hugh Gibbons. Possible locations include the top of Library Park and the Boston Public Library annex in Allston, Mass., and Watertown Square.

As of Wednesday night, Mr. Rectra had collected $400 of the $3,000 goal. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.gofundme.com/2nui5k.

Mr. Rectra will thank all benefactors with a personal note.

“If the modest goal is reached,” he said, “in addition to the memorial, I plan to train for and run the Boston Marathon for the first time.”

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