BU Grad Runs to Honor Fellow Student

By Diane McLaughlin
BU News Service

Halfway through her first marathon in 2015, Haoyue “Jasmine” Hu (CAS ’16) saw a sign in the crowd: Pain is temporary, but pride is forever.

“On a normal day, you see a slogan — you don’t do anything,” she said. “Only when you’re doing painful things and you see a slogan, you can be inspired a lot.”

For Hu, 24, pride refers to more than just completing a marathon. In 2015, she ran on behalf of the Lingzi Foundation, a charitable organization established in the name of a BU graduate student who was one of three people killed during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Hu said she felt pride in her former fellow Boston University student.

“She [was] beautiful and a graduate student from the same motherland with me,” Hu said. “I feel like we’re connected.”

Hu will run again this year for the Lingzi Foundation. She said she wants to show respect for Lu’s memory.

Created in 2014 by Lu’s family, the Lingzi Foundation has eight runners in this year’s Boston Marathon. Their fundraising goal is at least $20,000, according to Meghan Zaremba, who handles the organization’s administration.

Helen Zhao, a relative of Lu’s mother, serves on the foundation’s board of directors. Zhao, who lives in Cranston, Rhode Island, said she was Lu’s only relative in the area. Lu spent Thanksgiving, Christmas and long weekends with Zhao and her family.

According to Zhao, the foundation aims to keep Lu’s spirit alive through causes that reflect her interests, including food, music, animals and academic achievements. Past recipients of funds included the Boston Police Athletic League (PAL), which supports after-school programs for Boston children, and Edesia, a Rhode Island organization that produces and ships nutritious food to Africa.

“Lingzi had such a passion for food,” Zhao said. “It’s good to help kids in Africa in small ways.”

Zhao said the foundation plans to establish a permanent scholarship to help Boston children.

“I hope the Lingzi Foundation is going to continue to grow stronger,” Zhao said. “I just want people to know that her spirit is alive.”

Hu, who majored in economics at BU and plans to attend graduate school in the fall, considered going to the Boston Marathon finish line in 2013. Instead, she went to lunch with friends. Later, news about Lu’s death spread through a social media group for Chinese students.

Hu learned about the Lingzi Foundation through a marathon class she was taking at the Fitness and Recreation Center. Hu said she knew about the Boston Marathon before arriving at BU and had decided she wanted to run it one day. But her running experience had focused on shorter distances, specifically 800 meters. As a high school student in Guzhou, China, Hu said she finished in first place at that distance in her city and ninth place in her province.

The cold and rainy conditions in 2015 proved challenging for Hu. She said she could not maintain her pace on Heartbreak Hill and had to walk. According to the official marathon results posted by the Boston Athletic Association, Hu’s finishing time was 4:41:01.

Hu said she appreciated the support from her friends, the crowds and the women of Wellesley College, known for creating a “scream tunnel.”

“The girls there are very passionate,” Hu said.

Hu plans to make several changes in this year’s race, including better timing of her meals, restroom breaks and adjusting her pace so she can run up Heartbreak Hill.

People often express sadness upon learning that Hu runs for the Lingzi Foundation. Hu, who described herself as an optimistic person, has a different response.

“I would rather be happy to think about her,” Hu said. “I think she would feel good.”

Zhao agreed that Lu would be happy that people continue to think about her. She said Lu’s family appreciated that people have kept her memory alive.

“We’re forever grateful for the love of the strangers, all the people who know her or don’t know her personally,” Zhao said. “It’s a humbling experience.”