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Selectmen present citation to Saugus Marine veteran who ran 100 miles for nonprofit
The Daily Item - 12/1/2022
Dec. 1—SAUGUS — The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday night presented citations to Brandon Montella, a marine veteran who lives in the town, and Nicholas Santullo, of Medford, who both completed a 100-mile run earlier this year in an effort to raise money for a nonprofit started by Montella.
The nonprofit, Mission Ready, serves students between the ages of 13 and 18, who require temporary/ongoing intervention to succeed academically, or are less likely to transition successfully into adulthood and achieve economic self-sufficiency as well as students who lack the financial resources for fitness training. Mission Ready also serves Marine veterans who cannot afford fitness training as well as those actively participating in a substance abuse treatment program.
Montella, who owns a fitness and boxing gym in Woburn, told the board Wednesday that he and Santullo were able to raise $12,000 for the nonprofit, which he said sprung out of his own experience as a former at-risk student living in poverty.
"I took up boxing to be my fitness protocol ... retired after nine pro fights ... [I] just wanted to teach my classes and check in on my clients and stuff and needed a little something extra, kind of like have a mission again," he said. "So I decided to start a nonprofit."
"I grew up a little bit less than optimal conditions .. and as a veteran in service to my veteran friends who weren't as fortunate as I was, my career stateside the whole time, I had friends that had to deal with a lot more situations ... so I wanted to help them as well as serve some of the under-resourced kids and teenagers and youth within my community," he added.
At first, Montella and Santullo planned to run 100 miles because they wanted to see "if we could run 100 miles." But, when members of Montella's gym told him he should make the run a fundraiser, it was too good an idea to pass up.
Montella and Santullo set out on Nov. 10, the Marine Corps' birthday, intending to complete the 100-mile run in 30 hours. At first, the duo ran along the Northern Strand Trail, which runs 5.5 miles and ends at a set of railroad tracks on Boston Street in Lynn, running to Lynn and back to Central Street in Saugus, where their vehicle and crew were set up, numerous times.
Around mile 78, the duo decided to shake up their running path, and instead ran towards the Belmonte STEAM Academy, which is in the opposite direction. When they arrived, they stumbled upon a track, where they completed the remainder of the run. In all, Montella and Santullo ran for 27 hours and seven minutes, completing the run nearly three hours faster than they had aimed.
The ultra-run was only the start though, according to Montella.
"It was the first push to start working on some of these fundraising to bring more money into the nonprofit," he said. "Hopefully this was the first of many."
All five board members heaped praise onto Montella and Santullo, thanking them for the effort they put in to help the community.
Selectman Corinne Riley thanked Montella for his service, and added that the work he's doing is "wonderful."
"It's great to have a good friend next to you that did the whole 100 miles with you, so thank you," she said.
Selectman Michael Serino joked that he was "exhausted" listening to what Montella was doing.
Vice Chair Debra Panetta added that Montella and Santullo "really are an inspiration."
"I appreciate everything you do," she said.
Town Manager Scott Crabtree said Montella and Santullo's run was a "phenomenal accomplishment."
"It's incredible what you're doing," he said. "What you're doing, raising funds for the youth and the veterans is pretty impressive, so congratulations."
Chair Anthony Cogliano then asked the audience for a round of applause, and those assembled in the Town Hall Auditorium loudly obliged.
Charlie McKenna can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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