Man on the run: Aloha Joe's personal marathon to help first responders

Aloha Joe to run neighborhood marathon on May 18


Oakland Beach resident Joe Sullivan, nicknamed “Aloha Joe,” for his wide array of Hawaiian shirts, will be holding his own, personal marathon on May 18 right in his own neighborhood.

Sullivan has been running marathons for the past eight years and was training for this year’s Boston Marathon prior to its postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Once the news broke of its postponement, Sullivan decided to hold his own marathon and help others in the process.

“I was training for the Boston Marathon and the Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota, two months to the day of Boston,” Sullivan said. “They then got postponed and I thought, ‘Maybe I could use this as a springboard to try to raise some money.’ It’s just something good to do, I’m not working full time with everything going on, so I figured I’d do something good for the community and that is what I came up with.”

Sullivan has been accepting monetary donations on his GoFundMe page and will be taking all donations through the duration of the race.

All proceeds will help fund meals made by Dave’s Bar and Grill as well as beverages donated by Stop & Shop, and will be delivered to the Warwick Police and Fire departments, as well as Kent Country Hospital.

“We are already up to $670, and I have spoken to people that said that they would post something during the race,” Sullivan said. “It’s one of those things, if we were only able to raise $100 for meals, we would only visit one firehouse. If we get $1,000, we can bring more meals to different places. It all depends on how much we raise. Anything helps.”

Sullivan is also grateful for the local support, especially from his friend Michael Forrester, who helped connect him with Dave’s and Stop & Shop and has assisted with spreading the word.

“I appreciate it a lot,” Sullivan said. “The connection began with Michael Forrester, who is a bartender at Dave’s and is a good friend, he’s always interested in all the marathons and races that I do. We were looking for someone to cater the event and Dave’s came up with the specific sandwiches, the prices, and they’re going to work alongside us. He also had a friend that worked at Stop & Shop in Newport and he reached out and was able to get donations for soda and water.”

The marathon is set for May 18, with a rain makeup date of May 19. He will be running around his Oakland Beach block 105 times. Sullivan is hoping to maintain his average pace of four hours and is expecting a nice challenge for himself.

“It doesn’t affect my training, but the race itself, it’s going to be a difficult one for sure. I’ve run Boston, New York, Chicago, Vegas, I’m trying to run one in every state, but when I do that I have thousands of people running with me and sometimes millions of fans cheering me on, even if they don’t know who you are,” Sullivan said. “So for me to do this by myself, it’s going to be interesting. I’m just looking forward to getting out there and being active.”

To donate, visit The First Non-Annual Aloha Joe Marathon on GoFundMe, or Facebook at Friends of Aloha Joe Sullivan.


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