BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) -- The youngest victim of the Boston Marathon bombing, Martin Richard, was an inspiration to many during his short time on Earth, including his own teachers.
FOX 25's Heather Hegedus caught up with one of 8-year-old Martin Richard's teachers who decided to run the Marathon as part of a team honoring Martin and his family.
Nikolas Franks made a commitment to always care for his students. He had both Martin and Jane Richard as first grade students at the Neighborhood House Charter School in Dorchester. Jane was in his class when the bombings happened last year.
Franks said Martin was a calming, confident presence in the classroom.
"It was almost like having a third teacher in the classroom, cause you could count on him to just be a rock," said Franks. "If somebody was having a rough day, 'Sit him next to Martin, you know, Martin will kind of calm him down.'"
Franks said Martin was a little more reserved than his younger sister, who was in the spotlight.
The entire Richard family was at the finish line on April 15, 2013 when the second blast went off. Bill and Denise were injured. Jane lost her left leg.
Martin couldn't be saved.
Not a day goes by when Mr. Franks doesn't think about his wide-beyond-his years student with the huge, toothy smile. Martin was a member of the school's Peacemakers Club, who once made a sign that simply said, "No more hurting people, peace."
"It was so devastating. I really struggled last year to really bring our whole school back together, bring our classroom back together," Franks recalled.
Searching for a way to get through it, Franks surprised even himself by turning to something he previously had no interest in: running. He learned about a Marathon team being formed in Martin's memory, Team MR8.
There were only 100 spots on the team, but Franks made the cut. So did Beth Zerilli, a close college friend of Martin's parents.
"All my running partners, we share two things in common. We're all moms and we all share this idea of running on behalf of Martin. So when we feel tired, we just sort of think about that," said Zerilli.
The bombings hit way too close to home. SO even though Zerilli was at a point in her life where she thought her Marathon days were over, she decided to dust off those running shoes and began training with Team MR8.
"Cause you really can't change the situation. So if you can't change the situation, whatever you can do to help support them in whatever they feel is the right thing to do at the right time, is what I want to do," Zerilli explained of her decision to run.
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