By Jennifer L. Warren
BEACON – It was a “homecoming” that brought tears of joy to Tara Simmons, as she completed the last few miles of her 100 mile journey for human rights Sunday afternoon.
As Simmons came down Route 52, flanked by a runner and bicyclist friend, heading to Memorial Park, a huge smile covered her face. Filled with energy, positive vibes and bubbling gratitude, Simmons appeared unfazed by the 97 miles she had covered over the last approximately 26 hours. Looking straight ahead, her eyes and spirit were laser focused on reaching Memorial Park. Here, an impressive crowd of around 75 exhilarated people, 30 holding up Human Rights signs, awaited Simmons. The chants of “Tara” along with, “You are amazing,” intensified as she approached the electric atmosphere. Once there, the 37 year old life-long Beacon resident was embraced-both literally and figuratively- by each person, in utter awe of the close to 100 miles, which began in Albany, Simmons was on the very brink of completing, spreading her life’s passion for human rights, respect and love for ALL people. Taking in every morsel of the Memorial Park aura, Simmons finally sat down for a brief moment, unable to hold back the tears.
“I’m so incredibly grateful; there are no words for how happy and blessed I feel right now,” said Simmons, as she recharged for the final leg of her journey down her home city of Main Street. “This is not something I did or could ever do alone; each and every one of you was with me the entire way; I felt you and could not be more appreciative for your love and support.”
Fueled by the Memorial Park gathering, Simmons got back on her feet, holding up herself one of the Human Right signs high above her head, clad in her black “Keep it Positive” tank top and rainbow tutu, led by City of Beacon police car escorts, followed by a contingent of marchers, and headed to Main Street. Here, she was again welcomed by jubilant crowds of people at restaurants lining the street. Clapping and calling out, “You are amazing,” “You are an inspiration,” and other supportive messages, the spectators sparked Simmons even more as she and her followers uttered messages of human rights and overall respect.
The century “pilgrimage” finally wrapped up at the Waterfront, where Simmons crossed a festive, balloon-laden finish line overlooking the Hudson River on a crisp, idyllic late fall afternoon. The Center for Victim Safety and Support as well as Beacon Endurance had booths set up, offering information and refreshments.
“This just feels so perfect,” said Simmons, taking in the moment. “This all came together so beautifully; I just could not have even pictured it any better than this right here; this is something we all did together.”
NYS Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson was among those greeting Simmons at the finish. He presented her with a personally signed certificate of Merit.
“What she did is equivalent to four marathons,” said an amazed Jacobson. “And what she is doing now shows such dedication, bringing attention to critical human rights.”
Also at the finish line was an impressive showing of Simmons’ family, including her brother, Rueben Simmons, a large contributor to organizing this entire venture.
“I have always looked up to Tara as my older sister and someone who is stronger, faster than I ever thought possible, said a very proud Rueben, who took the Human Rights course and was awakened on many levels by the content and its own applicability to his own life.
“I can’t applaud my sister enough for spreading the message for the importance of these Rights for all people.” He continued, “I also can’t thank enough everyone who came together to make this happen, from Beacon Endurance, to the City of Beacon Police, to so many more; it takes a team.” Reflecting further, he added, “It’s such a positive thing to see people come together in this way; it’s definitely something we can all use, especially in these times, when it’s so important to focus on what we can do to make things better in this world.”