This month, I had the honor of running with 36,000 new friends at the 118th Boston Marathon.

I swore off marathons after running in 2006 in Boston, but last year’s tragedy brought me back to the starting line to run in honor of those who cannot.

Running 26.2 miles can obviously be a grueling experience, but it was easy for me to forget the pain when I started looking around and soaking in the incredibly supportive communities that lead to Boston.

It was a pretty extraordinary realization to find myself surrounded by so many thriving, enthusiastic small businesses and nonprofits.  I can’t think of any other event that brings together so many athletes, fans, nonprofits, and businesses in such a positive, supportive environment.

There were smiling, screaming, insanely enthusiastic spectators along the sidelines, cheering the runners along. And in the crowd I realized that there were also countless Constant Contact customers.

From restaurants teeming with spectators to local schools handing out orange slices, (thanks for those, by the way!) to the Boston Athletic Association, which organizes the marathon; I had the pleasure of running past incredibly supportive, wonderfully positive Constant Contact customers for the entire race.

In addition to the local small businesses coming out to support the runners, you couldn’t help but notice the thousands of runners (myself included) running for worthy nonprofits, many of which also use Constant Contact’s products and services.

From the starting gun to the finish line, I’ve never felt so much love from a community.

Feeling so much small business and nonprofit love made me feel very fortunate, not just to live in Massachusetts, but also to work for a company like Constant Contact.

Every day, we have the opportunity to give back to these incredible small businesses and organizations.  And when we’re not offering world-class marketing services, we’re giving back in other ways.

One of my favorite community initiatives is our Cares for Kids program, where our customers can sponsor nonprofits to receive a Constant Contact account, entirely free of charge.

Another program we look forward to every year is our annual, employee-run, charity auction.

Each year, employees from each of our office locations auction off services, items, and unique experiences for other employees to bid on. Last year’s prizes ranged from a fishing trip to a month’s worth of free coffee.

Last year, our employees raised $16,000, which was awarded to three organizations who make a profound difference in their communities.

I’m also inspired by the individual efforts of employees here at Constant Contact.

Last year, Allyssa Bates, Leadership Development Program Manager here at Constant Contact, shared her experience as an organ donor in a TEDxTalk, “Confessions of a Kidney Donor.”

In her talk, she not only advocated for the importance of being a donor, but provided much-needed education for people interested in beginning their journey to learn about organ donation.

Running through so many communities on Marathon Monday validated why it is so important for us to have community giving programs, and to provide our customers with innovative ways to give back as well.

Running the Boston Marathon also reminded me why Boston is one of the greatest cities in the world, and why I love being part of a Boston-bred company.

Having a connection to our local community, through our products and community giving programs, just makes sense – because when our communities succeed, our customers succeed (and that’s a very, very good thing).

As I turned onto Boylston Street for the final quarter mile, I ran through the loudest, most incredible roar of support that I’ve ever experienced.  It’s a feeling and a moment that I will never forget, to have thousands of strangers cheering for me as I crossed that finish line.

Just as those communities along the route gave so much to the runners last Monday, I hope that Constant Contact can continue to do the same for the broader community and for our customers.

Who knows, maybe we’ll even start handing out orange slices.

Reed Bundy is the Director of Corporate Social Responsibility & Internal Communications at Constant Contact.  He currently holds the record for the longest job title at the company.  To learn more about Constant Contact’s giving programs in the community, please visit www.constantcontact.com/cares.

In honor of National Donate Life Month, we wanted to share Allyssa Bates’s TEDxTalk, “Confessions of a Kidney Donor.