Even at age eight, Martin Richard, the youngest person to die in the marathon bombings, was regarded as a community activist, advocating for peace and inclusion of children of all abilities and sports.
"Martin was, you know, always the kid in the playground that invited kids in," said Martin's father, Bill Richard. "He wouldn't allow a kid to be the last kid picked. He made sure that that kid was picked first."
Monday marks nine years since Richard lost his life in the marathon bombings. It's also the first time the foundation won't have a team of runners, but the Richard family is very busy. The Richard Family Foundation is working to build a fieldhouse in Dorchester to give children in the area everything they need from sports to wrap around social services.
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In keeping with Martin's love of playing sports in his hometown of Dorchester, Bill Richard and the Martin Richard Foundation are helping to raise $50 million to build a state of the art 75,000 square foot fieldhouse on Mount Vernon Street.
"The café will public facing and the teaching kitchen directly behind it," Bill said. "And then on this side we'll have built the basketball courts and the turf field."
The foundation wants the facility to be used by the 50,000 children living within a three mile radius, as well as the two schools next door.
"We want this facility to be really the heartbeat of the neighborhood," Bill said.
The project is a collaboration between the Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester, who run the facility, plus Boston Public Schools and the Martin Richard Foundation. The fieldhouse will feature music recording equipment, a theater and plenty of green space for kids to relax and connect.
Neighborhood parents and kids released a video showing their support.
"I feel like our kids deserve to have nice things, so something like this is just way overdue," one community member said.
"I will probably make some friends and that's what it's all about," one child said.
The Martin Richard Foundation has raised $7 million so far for the project. They're inviting the public to a fundraiser at Florian Hall at 1 p.m. Sunday, titled Behind The Scenes with Bill Brett to benefit Dorchester Fieldhouse. The event features a book signing and storytelling with famed Boston photographer Bill Brett, a local radio and television journalists. Tickets can be purchased online.
"If we hit our milestones, we should be ready to break ground this fall," Bill said.