“Boston Strong” took on a whole new meaning when I sat down to interview Heather Abbott ahead of this year’s marathon.
As she had done for years, Heather traveled to Boston last April to meet up with friends, attend the Red Sox game, and go cheer on runners at the marathon finish line.
“It’s just a really fun occasion,” she told me. “I always looked forward to going every year.”
But last year, that fun occasion turned into a horrific tragedy. Heather’s left leg was severely damaged by the second bomb on Boylston street. A few days later, she became an amputee.
“I had a choice, but I didn’t really feel like I had much of a choice,” she said. “I was told that if I kept the leg, it would be shorter than my right leg. I’d never walk unassisted again, I’d probably have a cane or crutches. I would definitely never run.”
One busy and difficult year later, Heather is back in action. (She walked right onto our 8th floor set in platforms like it was nothing!) She has learned to use four different prosthetic legs — one for daily use, one for high heels, one for running, and one for water sports. She has become a mentor to other amputees, she is sharing her story in the “Run as One” documentary on Universal Sports Network and she has bounced back with an incredibly inspiring attitude about the whole situation.
“Most people are not going to be struck by a bomb at the Boston Marathon,” she acknowledges. “But everyone has their own struggles to deal with. And I can tell people about mine — what I’ve gone through, and what I’ve done up until now, and I can tell them what I think helped me do it, and I think it can apply to other struggles in life as well.”
Now, one year after losing a limb, Heather is back in Boston for Marathon Monday. Not only did she bring even more friends along this year, but she is jumping in to run the last half mile of the marathon with a woman who helped save her life.
“One year later I have the ability to do that, to run and to cross the finish line, and I think it’s very symbolic.”
Now that, my friends, is what you call a winner.