Their story may be the very definition of “healthy competition.”
What started out as a friendly rivalry at the gym, between Reading’s John Bogosian and Stoneham resident Michael Krasco, has evolved into fundraising powerhouse that has helped raise tens of thousands of dollars for the Special Olympics of Massachusetts.
Bogosian and Krasco’s fundraising team, Johnny’s Angels, fielded 37 runners for this past December’s Jolly Jaunt 5K road race in Boston and raised $11,636—eclipsing Bogosian’s goal of 30 runners and $10,000.
Johnny’s Angels was Boston’s top fundraising team at the 2010 Jolly Jaunt, and came in second to Brookline’s Heath School last year.
It all started right here in Reading, a few years back, when Bogosian and Krasco were both self-employed and often worked out of the Starbucks on Main Street, occasionally running into each other at the gym.
“How it started was one day, John and I were running on the treadmill, and he got done about 10 minutes before I did,” recalled Krasco, a senior financial advisor with the Woburn-based Erwin, Gresci, Krasco & Prue Financial Group. “I saw that he ran about five miles, and I had just happened to run six miles that day. When I got off the treadmill and went into the locker room, he asked me: ‘how far did you run today?’ I said six miles ... The next day, I saw him at Starbucks, and he said: ‘oh, by the way, I just wanted you to know, after you left I went back on the treadmill and ran another two miles.’ So that was it; I said: ‘okay, game on.’”
Bogosian put together a group to help raise money for the Special Olympics of Massachusetts by running in the Jolly Jaunt and invited Krasco to join, which he did with no hesitation.
Competing for a Cause
That was 2010, and the two men have never looked back. Even within Johnny’s Angels, the friendly competition endures, as Bogosian and Krasco vie to out-fundraise and out-recruit one another for the benefit of Massachusetts’ Special Olympics. The rivalry has been instrumental in helping to grow the charity.
“With our competitive nature we always want to do better than we did the year before,” said Bogosian, President of Waltham-based consulting firm King & Bishop, and resident of Pine Ridge Circle in Reading. “We just thought that this year, we wanted to expand it. I think we had 37 people, and the goal we set was 30.”
Bogosian, who coaches an under-12 soccer team in Reading, even recruited some of his players to run—along with his wife and daughter.
With under two weeks to hit their targets of 30 runners and $10,000, Johnny’s Angels was short by roughly $3,000, but the pair’s competitive fire was stoked by naysayers, and the rest is history.
“Someone said to me: ‘It looks like you’re not going to reach your goal,’” explained Bogosian. “Well, that’s all we needed to hear ... Within eight days, we raised $3,700. It worked out great, so our goal for 2012 is $15,000.”
With a friendly rivalry as strong as Bogosian and Krasco’s, there is often good-natured needling with regards to who won or lost, or who ran further on the treadmill. But one area where there can be no debate, is when the pair team up with Johnny’s Angels, people with disabilities win. Every time. And at the end of the day, that’s what truly motivates these two men.
“It’s just fun to be a part of something that’s bigger than you,” said Krasco. “It’s just a matter of making time, and I decided that I am very lucky and fortunate that everyone in my family is healthy and that this is a great organization that does so much for so many great kids and young adults.
“For me, it’s a very small thing that I can do—really, it’s very small what I am doing—but it helps, and it makes me feel good.”
'A Tremendous Honor and Privilege'
Bogosian, who served on the Special Olympics of Massachusetts (SOMA) board for four years, and is currently in his second year as First Vice-Chairman, feels the same way.
“Being part of SOMA is a tremendous honor and privilege for me,” he said. “Just being around the people, they’re so caring and just genuinely good people ... To be able to contribute in some way, with some of the skills that I have, to help the organization raise money for people with disabilities is terrific.”
Bogosian also cited the competitive aspect as being a positive.
“The drive of being competitive and using my skills to raise money, and have someone push me makes it even more fun,” he said. “It’s good to do something for an organization that helps people.”
Both men are quick to point to the contributions of Susan Jeune as major factors in the growth of Johnny’s Angels.
“Susan has done more than John and I in terms of organizing and getting information out,” said Krasco.
The message is apparently being received, as the ranks of the group continue to swell, and Bogosian continues to up the ante year after year.
“I’m treating it like a non-profit business,” he said. “And trying to grow it every year, by 10 to 15 percent ... I have people now, asking about next year already.”
Johnny’s Angels first participated in the Jolly Jaunt 5K event in 2010 with a team of 17 and collectively raised $7,470.
The Jolly Jaunt is an annual holiday-themed 5K run/walk held at the Boston Common and hosts hundreds of runners as they race through Boston’s historic Back Bay in their most festive and creative holiday-costumed running attire, all while raising money for SOMA. All proceeds from the race help support 12,128 individuals with intellectual and other closely related disabilities who take part in over 120 organized competitions in 26 different sports year-round.
Donations to Special Olympics of Massachusetts via Johnny’s Angels are welcomed year-round. For more information about supporting Johnny’s Angels through donations, corporate sponsorship or participation, please email the team captains at firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information about the team, please visit us on Facebook at Team Johnny’s Angels.