For years, Samantha Hughes was known above all else for one remarkable play on the basketball court.
Back in 2003, she came up with a basket and free throw with one second remaining to give Andover High a 48-47 win over Minnechaug and its first state title in girls basketball.
“I used to get comments a lot about that play,” said the 33-year-old Hughes.
That association has finally started to fade just a bit, but it’s being replaced by another.
Hughes is becoming well known as an avid fund raiser and runner in the Boston Marathon. She’ll be running her 10th straight Boston for charity April 15.
She ran for the American Liver Foundation for two years and this will be the eighth year she’ll run for the Patriots’ Foundation.
“She has raised a lot of money and is a natural fund raiser,” said North Andover’s Susan Hurley who, for years, has headed a Charity Teams running program to help runners prepare for the Boston Marathon.
This year, all charity runners are required to raise at least $7,500, a figure Hughes reached the week before last. She’s hopeful of reaching her personal goal of $10,000.
“I’ve never had a problem (raising the money),” said Hughes, who currently lives in Charlestown with younger sister Lauren, the starting center on Andover’s 2008 North champion girls basketball team that made the state finals. “I think I just have a good network of friends and family.”
Hughes is also passionate about running for the Patriots Foundation and that enthusiasm certainly helps when it comes to soliciting funds.
“It gives to 26 different charities in the region and all are good causes — from education to health care, preventing domestic violence, support groups. ...” said Hughes, who is employed by IBM in Boston. “I like the diversity and I feel like I’m giving back to New England. I’m from here and have always been here.”
Given her family support and network of friends while at Andover, Hughes’ fundraising success might not be surprising to those who knew her in high school. The fact that she has become a long distance runner, however, is a bit of a shock.
At Andover, Hughes was a standout in both basketball and soccer and she went on to play soccer at Bentley College. While both sports require good endurance, they’re far different from marathon running.
“I don’t think anyone would have thought of me as a marathon runner,” said Hughes. “After Bentley, I wanted to keep doing something competitive so I started running.”
Like many runners starting out, Hughes started with shorter races. But she quickly graduated to half-marathons and, before she knew it, she was ready for a marathon.
As for the running itself, Hughes does not have gaudy marathon times. With a best time of 4:08, she is still trying to break four hours. She was on pace for her fastest time in 2013 before being stopped just 200 yards from the finish line because of the bombing.
“But I feel pretty good this year and I have that goal of breaking four hours,” said Hughes, who still runs plenty of shorter races including the Feaster Five in Andover. “It was a pretty mild winter so it was possible to get in a lot of training.”
But even if she doesn’t reach her four-hour goal, Hughes has certainly proven herself worthy as a member of the Charity Teams contingent.