Nicole Butterfield had already planned to celebrate her 50th birthday by running her first marathon with the Lazarus House team.

“Then the Merrimack Valley gas explosions happened, and I realized that running the Boston Marathon for Lazarus House would be the best way for me to help direct much-needed resources to the community hardest hit by this disaster,” said Butterfield, who was born in Lawrence and raised in the Merrimack Valley.

Lawrence, she said, “holds a special place in my heart because my Italian immigrant grandparents found a home and livelihood there.”  Donating items to Lazarus House has been a tradition in her family for as long as she can remember.

Butterfield said she has always been an athlete, but only started running two years ago.  Inspired by the cold, windy and wet first-place finish of American Des Linden in 2018, Butterfield ran her first half marathon last April.

“On April 15, 2019, I will stand on the starting line in Hopkinton facing a new physical and emotional challenge, and I will run for Lazarus House and the people of Lawrence as they continue to overcome the challenges they have faced this year,” she said.