Biddeford resident Jessica Johnson will be among those running the Boston Marathon April 17 to benefit the Boston Museum of Science. She started running just three years ago, during the pandemic. Tammy Wells photo

BIDDEFORD — Jessica Johnson remembers the last words her mother, Dorothy Garnett, said to her.

“I want you to go out and do some good in the world,” she told her daughter, in part, before she passed away in 2002, Johnson recalled.

She took those words her mother said to heart. Johnson, who served in the U.S. Army, and her son, Julian Truitt, play Taps for veterans’ events, and she was an organizer of the Biddeford marching band and spent time tailoring uniforms and making the color guard flags. She made face masks during the pandemic and donated them to health care facilities.

Come April 17, she will be among those running the Boston Marathon.

Johnson, 40, is passionate about education, particularly STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — and when she takes to the course, she will be running to benefit the Boston Museum of Science, which provides programs for kids in schools all over new England, including Maine.

Johnson began running about three years ago.

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“I got bored during the pandemic,” she said in a recent interview, so she started walking. “It felt good, so I picked up my step,” she said. “Then, I started running, telephone pole to telephone pole.”

In her message to those who view her fundraising page for the marathon, she explained further:

“If you would have told me three years ago that I would be running, I would have laughed,” she wrote. “At that point, I could barely run to the refrigerator, never mind an actual race.”

She said she had low self-esteem and lacked confidence.

Johnson started increasing her distance every day and was eventually able to run a mile.

“That first mile was a turning point,” she wrote.

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Johnson eventually entered a 5K. Then came a virtual 10K, and she then began training for a half marathon. A knee injury sidelined her for a while, but she ran the Hampton Half Marathon in New Hampshire in 2021 – and then came the big one, a full 26.2-mile marathon in Providence,  Rhode Island on May 3, 2022. Next came the Philadelphia Marathon in November that year – the latter was tough because she was ill, and it was cold, about 20 degrees with the wind chill, and that was not all.

“A bird pooped on me at mile 18 and I had to stop for 10 minutes and clean up,” she said. She was frustrated and upset she recalled, but a woman passed her some baby wipes, and she was soon off again and finished the race.

“It was probably one of my best races because it showed me what I was capable of,” she said, looking back.

Now,  the local business owner — she owns Soul Stitcher on Main Street in Biddeford — is readying for the Boston Marathon, sponsored by the Boston Athletic Association. The Boston Marathon traces its beginnings to 1897, when there were 18 entrants. In 2022, there were 28,580 entrants, with about 24,900 finishing.

Johnson aims to be among the finishers for 2023.

“When you cross the finish line of a marathon for the first time, or any time, it changes you forever,” said Johnson.

She said running to help the Museum of Science and that, along with her other community work “is my way of passing on my mom’s legacy.”

Johnson’s commitment that benefits the Museum of Science is $7,500. As of Monday, she had raised about $3,200. Her fundraising webpage is at: https://donate.mos.org/fundraiser/4345775

As well, she is holding a bottle and can drive; and plans to host some raffles and Super Bowl squares. People can get in touch with her at: [email protected].

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