2013 Boston Marathon Champion Lelisa Desisa to Gift His Championship Medal to the City of Boston in Tribute to All Victims of the April 15 Tragedy

Tribute to be held on the Boston Common on June 23, 2013, at 10 a.m.

Jun 18, 2013, 10:00 ET from John Hancock Financial

BOSTON, June 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- John Hancock Financial and the Boston Athletic Association today announced that the 2013 Boston Marathon champion, Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia, will gift his championship medal to the City of Boston, on behalf of all Boston Marathon runners, to honor the victims and families affected by the tragic events of April 15, 2013.

Desisa will present his medal to Mayor Thomas M. Menino on June 23, 2013, at 10 a.m. on the Boston Common, near Charles Street. Desisa will make the tribute after competing in the B.A.A. 10K, which begins at 8 a.m.

In a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Ethiopia last month, Desisa announced his intention of returning to Boston to gift his medal to the City.

"Less than two hours after I had crossed the finish line as this year's champion, my joy turned to sorrow as I learned the tragic news of the death and the injury to so many innocent people. This day brought pain to many families and tremendous sorrow into many homes," said Desisa. "As a gesture of my solidarity with the victims of this senseless act of violence, I will return to Boston and gift my medal to the people of Boston in honor and in memory of those who suffered and those who died on that day."

"My message to all of you is that sport should always be a source of pleasure and enjoyment, healthy recreation, and positive competition. Sport holds the power to unite people and to connect people from all over the world with one another, allowing them the opportunity to share in their common humanity and to celebrate the richness of our world's cultural diversity."

At the 2013 Boston Marathon, Desisa was among 32 athletes from 11 countries competing on the John Hancock Elite Athlete Team for the 117th running of the race.

"When the world turned its eyes to Boston in the days and weeks following the marathon, the resiliency of our city, the courage of our first responders, and the strength of the many survivors were on full display," Mayor Menino said. "Since then, countless acts of kindness and generosity have lifted our spirits and inspired us.  On behalf of the City of Boston, we thank Lelisa for his thoughtful and moving gesture."

"Lelisa's return to Boston and his participation in the B.A.A. 10K will mark yet another admirable gesture that we have been witness to in the weeks following this year's Boston Marathon," said Tom Grilk, B.A.A. Executive Director. "Lelisa's participation is itself a tribute to all those affected by the events of April 15 and the aftermath, and we look forward to welcoming and thanking him for his compassion."

"Lelisa is a remarkable young man whose symbolic gesture embodies the heartfelt concern of so many people around the globe," said Rob Friedman, head of Sponsorship and Event Marketing at John Hancock.  "We are humbled by his action and join him in respectfully honoring the victims of this senseless tragedy."

About the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.)
Established in 1897, the Boston Athletic Association is a non-profit organization with a mission of managing athletic events and promoting a healthy lifestyle through sports, especially running. The B.A.A.'s Boston Marathon is the world's oldest annual marathon, and the organization manages other local events and supports comprehensive charity, youth, and year-round running programs. Since 1986, the principal sponsor of the Boston Marathon has been John Hancock Financial. The Boston Marathon is part of the World Marathon Majors, along with the international marathons in Tokyo, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York City. The 118th Boston Marathon will be held on Monday, April 21, 2014. Nearly 50,000 runners will participate in B.A.A. events in 2013.

About John Hancock Financial and Manulife Financial Corporation
John Hancock Financial is a division of Manulife Financial, a leading Canada-based financial services group with principal operations in Asia, Canada and the United States. Operating as Manulife Financial in Canada and Asia, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States, the Company offers clients a diverse range of financial protection products and wealth management services through its extensive network of employees, agents and distribution partners. Funds under management by Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries were C$555 billion (US$547 billion) as at March 31, 2013. Manulife Financial Corporation trades as 'MFC' on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under '945' on the SEHK. Manulife Financial can be found on the Internet at manulife.com.

The John Hancock unit, through its insurance companies, comprises one of the largest life insurers in the United States. John Hancock offers and administers a broad range of financial products, including life insurance, mutual funds, 401(k) plans, long-term care insurance, college savings, and other forms of business insurance. Additional information about John Hancock may be found at johnhancock.com and on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

SOURCE John Hancock Financial