On April 15, 2013, what is referred to as Marathon Monday in Boston, Heather Abbott of Newport, RI set out on an annual tradition with six friends. They would attend the Red Sox game, followed by a walk over to the finish line to watch the runners. Abbott would never have dreamed this day would change her life forever.
Abbott was struck by shrapnel from the second of the two bombs, severely injuring her left foot. Strangers Matt Chatham, former New England Patriots lineman, and his wife, Erin, carried her to safety.
After three surgeries in four days, Abbott was faced with an agonizing decision – should she try and save her left foot or amputate her leg below the knee. With the help of other amputees, and the support from thousands around the country, Abbott made the difficult decision, at the age of 38, to live her life as an amputee.
Her recovery, as it is for many, was a journey through pain, anger, optimism, challenge and resilience. A significant part of her recovery was her support network – the friends, family and strangers who sent her well-wishes, the fellow amputees who helped her transition and the custom prostheses that allowed her to live her life as before.
Through insurance and donations, Abbott was given four different prosthetic legs. Just months after the bombing, she was living independently and resuming the activities she loves, including stand up paddle boarding, running and wearing high heels.
Abbott has remained a model of strength and resilience and is determined to help other victims of limb loss. She is a certified Peer Counselor for the American Amputee Coalition and is helping other amputees adjust to their “new normal,” as others helped her.
By starting the Heather Abbott Foundation, she has another chance to continue to pay it forward for all amputees. Heather Abbott has recently been awarded the following: the 2014 Orthopedic Association’s Spirit of an Active Lifestyle Award, an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Framingham State University in 2015, the Stonehill College President’s Excellence Award in 2015 and the 2015 Providence Business News Woman to Watch.