Rain, shine, or hurricane, Oak Bluffs resident Lou D’Agostino planned to journey around the entire 124-mile perimeter of Martha’s Vineyard for charity, but was stopped short due to an injury.
D’Agostino would have been the first person to run and swim the perimeter of the Island. His record and route would have been listed in fastestknowntime.com. Unfortunately, his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tore, and he had to call it quits at the 10-hour mark. “I was so sad I was unable to do it this morning,” D’Agostino said.
Although planned for Thursday a little before midnight, D’Agostino began his 24-hour westward run and swim starting from South Beach in Edgartown a little earlier that night, at 9 pm. He planned to only travel on natural terrain. All proceeds D’Agostino makes through the GoFundMe page he set up will be donated to the Martha’s Vineyard Community Foundation. The page will stay up until Oct. 31, and has made $10,020 of its $100,000 goal so far.
D’Agostino said mentally he was still raring to go, but knew that the right thing to do was to let his body rest and receive surgery. He plans to try the run around the Island’s perimeter again next year.
D’Agostino set up the charity run-swim as a fun way to spread “self-love and self-worth awareness in our community.” He believed that this run-swim was a “good way to show people what they are capable of doing just being themselves.”
D’Agostino reached out to the Martha’s Vineyard Community Foundation after hearing about them from another Islander. D’Agostino wanted to figure out what was the best way to donate the money, particularly to organizations that have programs benefiting children.
“He really wanted to make sure the organizations that received the fund really needed it,” Jennifer Ray, manager of operations at the foundation, said. Ray said the foundation will discuss with D’Agostino how he might want the funds to be used for helping children, such as education or general wellness.
D’Agostino got into ultrarunning not long after graduating from Northeastern University, and has run thousands of miles on Martha’s Vineyard, usually wearing a T shirt promoting an Island nonprofit organization. Something he learned from many miles of running was that he can’t think of the next destination. Rather, he must be grateful for the present he is in. “You get lost in the present moment. You forget who you are, and recognize there’s no concept of time and no concept of anything except for right now,” D’Agostino said about the up-to-50-mile runs he takes. “It’s one of the few precious moments where I’m truly present.”
When D’Agostino found out that nobody in the small community of Island ultrarunners had tried going around the entire perimeter of the Island, he thought, “You know what? I’m going to do it,” and began training. D’Agostino said he has “never felt more ready” to do a task. D’Agostino also said he was mentally ready to take on the ordeal.
One of the people who helped train D’Agostino for the run-swim was YMCA swim instructor Jen Passafiume. They’ve known each other for a while now, and D’Agostino asked for help. Passafiume gave D’Agostine tips about swimming by “donating” a swim class to him.
“That was my way of contributing to his wonderful, wonderful fundraiser,” said Passafiume.
In the mission to spread self-love and self-worth, D’Agostino defined what these terms mean to him. Self-love and self-worth are not to love one’s ego or physical self. It is an acknowledgment that one is worthy of receiving love. “Sometimes a guide is needed to give that little spark of realization, including myself,” D’Agostino said. He wants to increase this awareness on the Island.
At home, D’Agostino teaches his children this by saying words like “I love you not because of what you do but because of who you are,” and nightly affirmations of, “I love you guys almost as much as you love yourselves.”
D’Agostino first came to the Island in 2013, and began working with children and teens as an exercise coach. D’Agostino said he would make little checkups on how the children he worked with were doing mentally and internally, and some of them had their own struggles internally or at home. He said these little checkups made a big impact on the children.
D’Agostino currently works with children on breath work, meditation, and other activities “to help kids who lack self-love and who need to see how amazing they are.” D’Agostino is in the works to establish his own nonprofit organization named Club Toucan, a name made by his children, with similar types of programs that he plans to open by next summer.
“This is my community. I love my community,” D’Agostino said.
Those who would like to contribute to D’Agostino’s campaign can do so on his GoFundMe page.