BGCD Marathon team, 18 strong, training hard for big run

Less than two weeks and 26.2 miles separate 18 runners of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester (BGCD) team from the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, April 15. While their run will officially start in Hopkinton, their journeys with BGCD mostly began some time ago.

One runner, Aisling Kerr, who was born and raised in Dorchester, describes herself as a “lifelong member of the club.” She joined the club when she was four years old and is now a proud alumna.

“It’s been probably one of the most important organizations in my life,” said Kerr, now 29. “Wherever life takes me, whatever I end up doing, when I look back on it, all I know is I wouldn’t have been able to do any of it without the club.”

BGCD aims to connect young people and families in an environment that emphasizes diversity, growth, and success. The organization has been in existence in the community for half a century with the opening of the Marr Clubhouse in 1974 followed by the addition of the McLaughlin and Denney Clubhouses in the early 2000s. 

Kerr says that it was her parents, who emigrated to Dorchester from Ireland, who introduced her to the club through Saturday morning swim lessons. From there, she dived into just about everything the club had to offer, from the Marlin Swim Team to the Keystone Club. This month, she will lace up her sneakers as a way to help ensure that other children – like her 25 years ago – will be able to do the same.

“Myself and my friends, we all grew up together there and we’re so lucky. My family has gotten so much from the club over the years,” Kerr told the Reporter. “Every little bit helps and every little bit counts. I always say to people that $5 covers a membership for one kid for a year.”

While she is a BGCD vet, some of her mates on the marathon team, such as Craig Welton, are new to Dorchester. The club’s new chief development officer is a city councillor in Peabody and an adjunct college professor.

Before coming to the neighborhood for work, Welton was with Best Buddies International as the state director for Massachusetts and Rhode Island for more than ten years.

“Even though I’ve just been working with the club for the last nine months in an official capacity, long term I’ve been familiar with the club and the impact that they have in the community,” said Welton, “particularly the impact that they have in the community to support kids of all abilities.” 

Welton is no stranger to the marathon scene and has run Boston eight times. “I have a lot of people who have supported me in the past in running. So, I was able to reach out to a number of people who made donations,” he told the Reporter.

“I get to see the impact every day with the kids. It’s kids of all different backgrounds, all different abilities. It’s really a special place to be able to see that all come together under one roof.”

Another member of the BGCD marathon team, 36-year-old Rob Dalto, has completed 24 marathons, including all six major US marathons in both 2023 and 2024. He is a senior director at Databricks in New York City and a former collegiate athlete.

Last year, Dalto’s presence on social media took off when he posted a TikTok vlogging his experience running Boston after “accidentally qualifying” for the race. In the video, Dalto is seen taking a detour through Dunkin’, accepting a White Claw on the streets of Natick, high-fiving Wellesley College students, and proudly crossing the finish line at 655 Boylston St. 

Dalto has more 31,000 followers on TikTok and 24,700 on Instagram, and he’s using those platforms to support to Dorchester cause. 

“I got in contact with the Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester, and they saw that I like using running as a vehicle to have an impact on the community. The outcomes these clubs are able to create is really correlated to the effort the staff put into the club,” he said. “It’s just really clear to me that these folks really care about making a national class experience and club in Dorchester.”

Former Division I Syracuse University soccer player Mackenzie Vlachos is also running on behalf of Team BGCD. After graduating in 2021, she signed on as an early education teacher at BGCD, where she teaches K1. 

When she decided to run Boston, Vlachos didn’t know that BGCD had a team of their own. She will be running with the organization for the second time this month. 

“The training is long and hard, but it gives you a little bit of extra boost knowing that when I’m running, I am doing it for a lot of the kids I work with,” she said. “I’m making an impact in a lot of their and their family’s lives, and it makes it feel much more special.” 

Like Welton, working at BGCD gives Vlachos the chance to see firsthand how these fundraising efforts can impact the club.
“It’s kind of like a home away from home for a lot of children,” she noted. “It’s just a place for them to come and have fun. The most important thing is just like being there for all of our members and making sure they are happy.”

Those interested in supporting these runners and BGDC can do so by logging onto

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