Darien resident Vito Abbate is one of hundreds of Bank of America employees who volunteer at the company-sponsored Chicago Marathon. But he said his task at the finish line is an incredibly rewarding experience.
“We work the finish line. We have the honor to put the medals on the finishers,” Abbate said. “If you would see the look on their face that they actually completed running a marathon, it’s an unbelievable feeling. They’re so excited. A lot of them start to hug you and say thank you.”
The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is this Sunday, Oct. 13. For more details and a spectator's guide, go to the Chicago Marathon website.
Abbate has worked at Bank of America for more than 25 years and is now the senior vice president in Global Treasury Solutions for Bank of American Merrill Lynch. He always wanted to volunteer but had commitments to his daughters’ club volleyball team. This will be his fourth year volunteering, and he’s gotten his wife, Kathleen, and his daughter Michelle involved, too.
This year, about 400 Bank of America employees are volunteering at the marathon, and another 300 or so are running in it. In 2012, the marathon raised $15.3 million for charitable organizations with 10,000 runners running for charity.
“That’s what’s nice working for Bank of America: We really focus on giving back to the community,” Abbate said. “It’s expected that if you work at Bank of America, you volunteer. It’s just a way to give back to our communities and become involved.”
Working the finish line gives Abbate and his family the opportunity to see the elation of runners accomplishing something great. There was a woman who was nine months pregnant who finished and went into labor that evening. Another man Abbate remembers was a guy from Spain in his mid-20s who proposed to his wife when she crossed the finish line.
“That was probably one of the most unique experiences,” he said. “Those are the unique stories, but really it’s the people who have trained for weeks and months for a goal many of them have had for their whole life.
"To see them do it ... they are just, many times, struggling but they have that goal and they’re going to do it. It’s so gratifying.”