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From Refugee To The Boston Marathon

After a life of adversity, the kindness of others have gotten Saint Cyr Dimanche to the U.S. and ultimately, to the Boston Marathon.

Most runners have worked through difficult times to earn their spot on the starting line at the Boston Marathon. However few have preserved through the hardships that Saint Cyr Dimanche has faced throughout his life.

Dimanche was born in a small village in the Central African Republic. He lost both of his parents; his mother passed during childbirth and his father was killed by rebels. After fleeing to Cameroon at 14 years old, he found work in construction. The 12-hour days wore on Dimanche’s body. He eventually ended up in the hospital for six months with a kidney infection.

During his hospital stay, he met Anne and Bob Bureau, who were on a service mission through their church. The Worchester, Mass., couple decided to adopt him. So at 17, Dimanche arrived in the United States, only able to communicate with his new guardians through iPhone translation apps.

Through the support of his new family, Dimanche thrived. He graduated high school and enrolled in Brandeis University, where he is currently in his third year. He also began to run, setting his sights on the marathon while fundraising along the way. His desire to help others fueled his goals.

“It’s one simple reason,” he said. “People helped me to become well now, and I want to give help to others. Without the help of others, I wouldn’t be here.”

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Dimanche tried to qualify for Boston at the Lehigh Valley Marathon. Unfortunately he was among a group of runners who were stopped for almost 10 minutes due to a slow-moving train crossing the race course. The delay caused him to miss out on running a Boston Qualifier.

His Boston Marathon dreams were not dashed though. An anonymous friend from Brandeis donated $5,000 to earn Dimanche a spot on the Red Cross charity team. He is excited to run for a cause he believes in. “I had to give something back. Even though I don’t have enough to repay the people who have helped me, I am hoping to give to others.”

Dimanche still has big goals beyond Boston. He hopes to graduate with a degree in international studies so he can pursue a career in global politics. Another dream is to go back to C.A.R. to locate his family, especially his half sister he left behind.

After the adversity faced in his life, Dimanche will have more than enough strength to make it through 26.2 miles in his new home state. “I never worry,” said Dimanche to CBS Boston. “I just look forward.”