If you noticed, my last post was taken down after a day. If you didn't notice... well that's okay too.
I feel like I'm living in a bad reality TV show, maybe a daytime soap. Things like this just don't happen in real life, right? Before I get ahead of myself, let me just start at the beginning.
A little over 2 years ago Shane and I went to a volunteer clean up for a conservation area near our home. We spent an entire day mending and painting fences, signs, and benches. We cut apart fallen trees to clear the trails and picked up litter. It was at this event that we met the president of the Mon-Yough Trail Council (MYTC) and pitched our idea for a race on the trail.
Fast forward a few months and our dream became a reality. Team Brunazzi teamed up with the MYTC to create what is now known as the Boston Trail 5k & Half Marathon. About this time Shane and I began experiencing our first 'trolls' but we quickly realized it was just one person who seemed bound and determined to find ways into our lives.
Since the first year of this race Shane and I have been targeted by this person. Fake Facebook accounts pop up and add us as friends or 'like' our event pages and then start complaining about the event or trying to sabotage our relationships with other community-minded people. We realize the pages are fakes when this happens (and the name on the account was never a registered participant at the event, etc). In the past we have always reacted by 'unfriending' the account and moving on.
Now a line has been crossed. This person created a Facebook page for the Mon-Yough Trail Council after last year's race. No one realized it was not created by the MYTC and the Brunazzi family and many of our friends 'liked' the page. The page pretended to be the real MYTC for almost a year, posting about upcoming events, council meetings, and the like.
At one point the page sent Shane a message asking him to submit an article for the MYTC newsletter. Shane spent hours writing and rewriting his article and then sent it off to the trail council by snail mail. Because he sent it to the true MYTC the article was published (without them questioning why he sent it) and we never questioned that the page that asked Shane to write it was legitimate.
This false sense of security in the false MYTC page almost cost us our relationship with the council. A few days ago Shane created an event page for the Boston Trail race and began inviting friends and family to attend. A few hours later the supposed 'vice president' of the MYTC used the Facebook page to ask us to take down the event page stating that we couldn't advertise the race because it's 'not ours' and their sponsor wouldn't like it.
Shane apologized and took down the event page but questioned why free publicity was suddenly frowned upon. In years past we have bought banners and signs (with our own funds) to promote the race and never been asked to take them down. The response was that Shane and I are 'arrogant' and use the race to promote ourselves instead of the MYTC and should leave the race to the professionals. We quickly retaliated by asking our friends and family NOT to attend the race. Of course we were angry, justifiably so, but we were also wrong.
The next day I spoke with the true MYTC board members and learned that the Facebook page was false. We were stunned to say the least. For over a year we had been duped and sabotaged unknowingly. This person managed to set it up to look like the real MYTC by asking Shane to submit the article which was then published. They posted about every event and meeting diligently just like the true council would. Never once did we doubt the authenticity of the page, until it almost ruined an outstanding event.
We quickly apologized to everyone for the mix up and took down our posts about it. This led to the next deception. The person behind all of this obviously had access to Shane and I's personal Facebook pages. The messages we received referred to posts we had made on our private accounts so we began to hunt for 'suspect' friends. We unfriended dozens of pages and people simply because they didn't have mutual friends or we didn't know them on any personal level. We began to feel a little more secure in our online world again but it was short lived.
You may remember Shane and I's first 'Team Brunazzi' event, the Boston Harvest 5k, from last year. It benefits a little boy, named Rex, in our community who suffers from Batten's Disease. We had the pleasure of meeting many family members and friends of Rex at the event and some of them became our Facebook friends too. One of these 'people' claimed to be Rex's grandmother.
For the last year 'she' has been privy to our private Facebook pages and all of our posts. 'She' has commented on our events and 'updated' us on Rex. But today we found out 'she' is not real. We spoke to Rex's family and mentioned this 'grandmother' and quickly realized it's another fake page. The Brunazzi stalker strikes again.
Right now we are just blown away by the length of time, the amount of planning that went into the fake MYTC and 'grandmother' pages, and the amount of hate that must be behind such an effort. So I hope you will forgive us if we are not as active or open as we would normally be online. Until the investigation into these matters is completed and the person behind it is facing legal consequences we won't be very trusting.
Not to fear, however, there will still be race reports, running pictures, and some product reviews coming up. There just will be no updates on our personal or charitable lives. We need to protect ourselves, our children, and our events. I'm sure you understand!
Thank you and love you! <3 p="">3>