Aoife Callinan running for a cause
August 20, 2016
By Rob Duca, Cape Cod Times
Aoife Callinan has had a tremendous impact on the success of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s women’s soccer team during her first three seasons with the Buccaneers. But her impact on people in need over the past nine years has been even more substantial.
Since 2009, when the West Falmouth native was only 13, she has run the Falmouth Road Race to raise money for the Cape Cod Center for Women, which provides a safe haven for abused women and their children.
When Callinan, 21, steps to the starting line in Woods Hole on Sunday, she will once again be running for something far more important than a personal best time.
“It just makes me feel really good to be running for a purpose,” she said. “To be honest, I probably would not have run the race the past few years if not for the opportunity to raise money for this cause.”
Callinan does not have a personal story in her family background that led her to become a passionate advocate for the CCCW. A friend ran Falmouth in 2008 to benefit the shelter, and she thought it would be a great idea to do the same.
“And then I was told that the money I was raising was going to the children. That really motivated me,” she said.
She is being joined this year by her sister, Shauna, a 2012 MMA graduate who co-captained the women’s lacrosse team in her senior year. Together, the Callinan sisters have raised nearly $3,500 this year.
“It’s been nice to be able to train with my sister,” said Aoife, who is currently living with Shauna in Dedham as she completes a college internship. “I’m think I’m ready for the race. I’m training extra hard so I’ll be ready for soccer. My goal is always to finish in less than one hour.”
Aoife will enter her senior year in the fall and will co-captain the soccer team. She is studying toward an engineering degree.
She has raised nearly $20,000 for the shelter over the past nine years and was honored two years ago with the Phyllis Collett Memorial Award, which is the highest honor given by the Cape Cod Center for Women and recognizes outstanding lifetime achievement toward ending violence against women and children.
“It’s an honor and very humbling,” Callinan said of receiving the award. “Phyllis Collette used to volunteer for the Cape Cod Center, so this award shows their appreciation for someone who made a difference.”
The CCCW is the only 24/7 confidential domestic violence emergency shelter serving Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Since it was founded in 2000, it has provided sanctuary for more than 500 families and hotline services for approximately 10,000 callers. Callinan is one of 18 runners competing in Sunday’s road race to benefit the CCCW.
“This means so much to us. It is our second largest fundraiser,” said Diane Pratt, the center’s executive director. “We couldn’t sustain our programs without the support of this fundraising, these runners and those people who donate to the runners. This is such an unbelievably important effort that allows us to continue to help people on Cape Cod who are dealing with domestic violence.”
The center is one of more than 100 state-based charities who are part of the race’s numbers for nonprofits program. In 2015 more than $3.4 million were raised by runners.
Callinan became even more devoted to the cause after visiting the shelter and meeting a few of the people who have been helped by her fundraising.
“It was emotional and very inspiring. The children have made cards for me, which is really nice. I continue to do this because I know I can make an impact on these people,” she said.
“I think it’s better to run and raise money for a local organization because you can see where your money goes and how significant your small donation can be,” Aoife added. “I know that one year the shelter was forced to cut the hours for a child advocate staff member, but they were then able to keep that person on because of the money that was raised.”
Said Pratt, “When you walk into the shelter and see the families all living community-style, cooking in the same kitchen, dealing with their own struggles and their own trauma, you get the full impact.”
When Aoife Callinan crosses the finish line on Sunday in Falmouth Heights she will know that once again her efforts have made a difference in people’s lives. Her time won’t matter. The only number that will count will be the one listed under donations.