Pay It Forward - Meredith Hamsher

10/11/2023 12:00:00 PM

Meredith Hamsher-header

“I may not feel my best, and it may not be my best run or training … but I don’t need to take it for granted,
because a lot of people can’t do it.”
– Sarah Mastera, Bell Bank Employee


Bell Employee

Sarah Mastera

Fargo, N.D.


Meredith Hamsher and Hoyt Foundation

The Need

Since high school, Sarah Mastera and her friend Meredith Hamsher have shared a passion for challenging themselves. Over the years, in a circle that often includes friends and spouses, Sarah and Meredith have supported each other through some of the world’s most difficult physical challenges, pushing the boundaries by running marathons and triathlons.

Their core group of 4 friends live across the country – in New York, North Carolina, Nashville and Fargo. For a decade, they traveled to race together. They still gather periodically to celebrate birthdays and catch up on each other’s lives.

It was Meredith who changed the way Sarah approached training. The two were running an Ironman race (involving long-distance swimming, biking and running), Meredith’s first.

“You start at 7 a.m., and you have to finish by midnight,” Sarah explains. “About 10 p.m., Meredith has a smile on herself. I don’t. She’s very much the person that is celebrating the fact that she is there and she is grateful for the opportunity that she has the strength and the ability to do this, because a lot of people don’t. So that shifted my perspective … I may not feel my best and it may not be my best run or training, but I don’t need to take it for granted, because a lot of people can’t do it.”

So when Meredith contacted the group, letting them know she’d been selected to run the Boston Marathon to raise funds for the Hoyt Foundation, Sarah knew she wanted to reconnect, rallying to support her friend and a good cause.

The Impact

Started by father and son Dick and Rick Hoyt, the Hoyt Foundation raises money and supports individuals with physical disabilities, becoming advocates for them. Rick, who passed away in 2023, had cerebral palsy – and ran the Boston Marathon 32 times, in a wheelchair pushed by his dad.

“A marathon is hard on your own,” says Sarah, “much less pushing another human being. So Meredith was incredibly honored to run the ‘holy grail’ of marathons, and represent this organization.”

Sarah followed Meredith’s fundraising efforts on Facebook and Instagram, buying Squares, along with the other “core” friends and her co-workers, for the chance to win a variety of prizes. Sarah then decided she was all in with a Pay It Forward gift of $500 for the Hoyt Foundation – sending her donation to Meredith in North Carolina with a card that read, “I know what this race means to you.”

“I got a big phone call when she got it,” Sarah says.

It’s like Meredith, Sarah relates, to approach her fundraising opportunity with the Hoyt Foundation through a spirit of servanthood. Supported by the presence of her young daughter, Haley, Meredith completed the 2023 Boston Marathon – and ultimately, she also raised more than $8,000, including Sarah’s generous Pay It Forward gift, for the Hoyt Foundation.

“She’s going to squeeze every moment out of every event,” Sarah says. “She has the biggest heart.”

Through the Pay It Forward program, Bell gives employees money each year to donate to people in need and causes they care about.