Three teenage brothers give best story in sports

The Stolzenberg brothers wanted to help Boston Marathon victims — and inspire along the way

This is for the dreamers. The givers. The naïve kid somewhere still in all of us hoping to make a difference. Three teenage brothers sat in their Weston home last April, plotting to raise money for the Boston Marathon victims they related to so closely.

The oldest brother, Harris, 18, suggested he run the next Boston Marathon as a fundraiser, even though he'd never run a marathon. Never run any distance race at all, to be honest.

The middle brother, Justin, 15, said he was too big as a football lineman to run but would cheer loudly at the finish line. The youngest, Michael, 13, created another finish line.

"Let's raise $1 million,'' Michael said.

He's 13. A kid. What did he know? What did any of the Stolzenberg brothers know, really?

"Why not go for $10,000, because you'll be lucky if you get that," the boys' mother, Laura, said.

"No, let's try for $1 million,'' Michael said.

And so their journey began. Or maybe it began five years earlier, when Michael contracted a rare bacterial infection that put him in a coma and deprived oxygen to his limbs. He was 8. All four limbs had to be amputated.

The first impression was what Michael lost. The lasting impression was what remained. What spirit. What heart. He played football. He attended regular school. This past year at Pine Crest in Fort Lauderdale, he played on the middle-school lacrosse team.

So when the Stolzenberg brothers saw how many victims in the Boston Marathon bombing were amputees, they wanted to help in some small way … that's become a big way.

Oprah mentioned them in a commencement speech at Harvard this spring. She then called Michael and asked how much money they had raised.

"About $100,000,'' he said.

"I'll double it,'' she said.

So now $200,000 was raised. And that's where things stood for slow weeks. The brothers asked some teachers at Pine Crest what they should do. From that, the school offered to help host Mikey's Run on July 27 to raise money for the cause.

There will be a five-mile run at 7:30 a.m., followed by one-mile and half-mile runs. But the runs aren't so much the story. The community that's risen up around the brothers' dream is.

It wasn't just Oprah. The Florida Panthers signed on as a sponsor. Several local businesses did. The winners will be interviewed by ESPN, which will do a segment of its "E:60" show on the brothers' cause.

Harris, who will attend M.I.T. in Boston next month as a freshman, posted on the school Facebook page if anyone could help set up a website. Another incoming freshman, Corey Walsh from California, helped set up Mikey'sRun.com.

"It's gotten crazy in a great way,'' Harris said.

A few weeks ago, the brothers went to Orlando, where Michael attended an amputees' conference. A couple of Boston Marathon victims who had lost limbs were there, too.

They all went to dinner. Michael explained what happened to him. He said life goes on just fine. He showed them pictures of him playing lacrosse.

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