“Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.”
As we turned onto Beacon St past the 22 mile marker my stride shrunk to the point where I was barely raising each foot off the ground. My legs had cramped up into two planks and I was in full effect speed-walking mode. At the next water station I drank a cup of Gatorade and started walking awkwardly. I felt pathetic and beaten. Despite miles of training and a well designed plan leading up to the 2013 Boston Marathon, the famous marathon “wall” had hit me in its glory and I was struggling to get back into the race. Fortunately, like the mother of a first grader, I had labeled my first name on the front of my shirt. Within seconds the crowd was screaming my name for me to get back into the race and I pushed on. The crowd was nuts. It was a beautiful day and they were pumped up, shouting chants, and cheering people on. It was amusing to watch some spectators high fiving one another as each runner waved or made some acknowledgement of their presence. It was as if the crowd had witnessed a personal finger point from Big Papi himself as he rounded third base to home plate. Mile 23 was worse but I sauntered forward slowly only to be smacked again by the “bonk” right before mile 25. That was it, I was toast. In my mind I said “Man, you just aren’t made to do marathons. This will be your last one.”
Earlier that morning, 46 runners congregated at a residence in Hopkinton to prepare for the running of the 2013 Boston Marathon. They were held together by the bond of Tedy’s Team. We were running for our “stroke heroes”, friends and family members who had been the victims of stroke. Tedy’s Team was founded by New England Patriot great Tedy Bruschi and the American Stroke Association years earlier. Its mission is to raise money for stroke research and spread awareness. Tedy was there that morning to pump us up. My teammates and I had been training and fundraising for 6 months and we couldn’t believe this day had come. Some of us were excited, some were nervous, others seemed sleepy and rested for the race which was only an hour away. The weather was cooperating making for perfect racing conditions. We circled around Tedy, bowed our heads in silent prayer and then headed out to the starting line.
None of could have imagined how the day’s events would unfold. That Monday and the week that followed was like living in a Hollywood movie which we couldn’t turn off. The explosions that ripped across Boylston St terrorized a city on a day that we all hold sacred. Patriot’s Day, a day where Massachusetts honors the battle of Lexington and Concord at the start of the American Revolutionary War which also happens to be a celebration featuring the world’s #1 Marathon: The Boston Marathon. Boston and its Marathon will never be the same. The entire State of Massachusetts was put on edge until Friday night when the second suspect was captured. When you walk through the emotions, you recall that first there was fear, then great sadness, then anger, then relief and rejoice. It was an emotional rollercoaster ride that no one wanted but all of Boston felt.
I am a very lucky man. My body crossed the finish line on auto-pilot around 2:35pm. I had been running on the left side of Boylston searching for family, friends and Tedy’s Team. Not one person was recognizable so I crossed the finish line and entered the chute. Most runners like myself filed through the chute like zombies. Slowly inching forward, looking around while being greeted by volunteers who awarded medals and food. As we turned the corner 3 blocks away from the finish line we heard a loud BOOM! I instantly thought “that didn’t sound right” and looked up at the buildings but saw nothing. It sounded a crane fell. Then seconds later another BOOM! Still dazed from running I walked out of the chute to greet family and friends. It was only minutes later when sirens blared and people were crying in the streets that we started to piece it altogether. My immediate family had left Boylston St. the moment I crossed the finish line to meet me at the family waiting area. Luckily my family and friends who had remained on Boylston St. were far enough away from the second blast. They escaped bodily harm but were close enough to see the carnage. They described it as a terribly gruesome scene.
Later that day we watched news replay the moments of the explosions over and over. We learned the stories of the three poor souls killed by the blast: Martin Richards, Krystle Campbell, and LU Lingzi. Three people’s lives which were cut short by the senseless violence. My heart aches for the Richards family. I cannot even begin to understand what they are going through. As a father I can’t imagine what Bill Richards is feeling.
The thing that pushes away the sadness is seeing the strength and the good in humanity. Watching the video of the police, emergency personnel, and bystanders rushing to help the injured was one of the most impressive moments in Boston history. So many everyday people helped out the injured laying on the ground and saved lives. By now most of you have heard the story of “man with the cowboy hat” Carlos Arredondo who helped save 27 year old Jeff Bauman. Bauman is a hero himself who upon waking in the hospital helped identify the bombing suspects. There are probably hundreds of other similar stories of strength and courage which define altruism.
Following the capture of the remaining suspect on Friday the question remains, what do we do now? How do we recover? How do we heal? We have an opportunity to show the nation, the world and most importantly those directly affected by the bombings, how caring and charitable the people of Boston can be. We may have an edge but we take care of our own, especially when faced with great adversity. Let the world look back at last week and the weeks which follow with admiration for how we pick ourselves up when knocked down and for the charity we showed to our community.
Since last Monday several charitable funds have been created (see below) to help those injured and the families affected. Please donate whatever possible to help ease the financial burden these families will face. Besides monetary donations there are many other ways to contribute, recover and heal. You can write the injured and let them know they are in your thoughts and prayers. Several of the injured already have Facebook pages setup to support their recovery. For example, here is Jeff Bauman’s Support Page, and another for Officer Donahue the MBTA police officer wounded in the manhunt. Take a moment to post your thoughts and ask if they need anything.
We need to thank the countless Police, Emergency Personnel and other Law Enforcement that served the public valiantly on Monday 4/15 and the week that followed. It was impressive to see how quickly officials were able to identify and track down the suspects. They did an amazing job working with one of the most complex crime scenes in history. We should remember Office Collier who died in line of duty, may he rest in peace. If you see a Police Officer in Boston, Cambridge or Watertown please say “Thank You”. Maybe even buy them a coffee. It is the least we can do. After all they were truly amazing.
RUN FOR BOSTON
Road races around the country have already started to raise funds and pay respects to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. I cannot think of a better or more appropriate way to help those in need while saluting the heroes from the event. Grab a Boston Strong or other tribute shirt (there are many online stores selling them) and hit the road. It doesn’t matter if it is a road race or training run. Show people you care but most importantly don’t let people forget. As the news cycles on to their next story it’s easy to move on with your daily life. Like 9/11 Never Forget.
Despite this year’s performance I will run another marathon, and if God is willing, another Boston Marathon. Boston will have a 2014 Marathon and there is no doubt it will be the best ever. Running the Boston Marathon was lifelong dream for me. I wonder if it is a dream for those affected. It would be the ultimate tribute to have the injured cross the start and finish lines next year or in following years, whether it be on their own or by someone pushing them in a wheelchair. How impressive would it be to have a team pushing victims in wheelchairs next year? The Hoyts taught us that the strength of the human spirit can let us achieve anything. Let’s take that lesson to heart. So keep running Boston and be strong, #BostonStrong.
BOSTON MARATHON VICTIM CHARITIES
(Courtesy of the Huffington Post)
- The One Fund Boston
- Richard Family Fund
- Lu Lingzi Scholarship Fund
- Krystle M. Campbell Memorial Fund
- Jeff Bauman, a spectator who lost both legs in the aftermath of the blasts, will likely face hefty medical bills as he begins to recover. To help offset the costs, friends and family have launched the Bucks For Baumanfundraiser. Find out how you can get involved here.
Bauman’s family is also asking people to send letters of support to Jeff. Mail can be sent to:
Jeff Bauman C/O Jen Joyce 117 Tyngsboro Rd. Westford, MA 01886 or Jeff Bauman C/O Jen Joyce P.O. Box 261 Chelmsford, MA 01824. Learn more about Jeff’s progress on his Facebook support page.
- Friends and family of Patrick and Jessica Downes, newlyweds who each had a leg amputated after the blasts, are raising money for the couple’s medical bills. Find out how you can get involved with Help for Patrick and Jess here.