Thursday, April 23, 2015

"Creating better memories" - Part 2

There are so many stories of survivors' resilience and creating better memories than those we all have from 4/15/13. While many wounds are reopened and raw with the penalty phase of the trial happening in Boston, those wounds will heal and all that will remain are these better memories as we continue to move forward in our lives; as our love, strength and resolve as a Boston Strong survivor family continue to grow.

Hafsa Lewis Labreche
had some training in emergency medicine which she was able to use to help save the life of Brittany Loring on 4/15/13. Together they forged a friendship and a Foundation to help trauma survivors. Her thoughts after running the 2015 Boston Marathon:
I am so OVERWHELMED with love and support it is seeping through my pores. I never in a MILLION years thought I would (or could) run a Marathon... let alone, arguably, the greatest Marathon in the world. Before this journey I had never run more than 8 miles…what I have learned in these last few months is that you are capable of FAR more than you could possibly imagine. If you TELL yourself you can do something…you absolutely CAN. Face your fears head on or as my dear friend Ben Foley says “Embrace the Suck". When I took that left on Boylston St yesterday, I took back an image of the Finish Line that has been seared in my memory for the last two years, whats more, I ran for a cause that has become a big part of me in so many ways. Saying "thank you” doesn’t quite seem like enough, to all of those who supported me, listened, gave advice and pushed me until I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore…you have all unequivocally changed me as person. I am honored to be the first Boston Marathon Runner for the The Brittany Fund for Trauma and Recovery and I know I will certainly not be the last! Boston Marathon 2016?....who's with me?!

She was planning to run the full marathon but her doctors advised her it was too soon after her November amputation. Rebekah Gregory DiMartino was at Ground Zero on 4/15/13. In November she made the decision to amputate her leg after numerous surgeries and being confined to a wheelchair. Her reflections on running the last 3.2 miles of the Boston Marathon on Monday and crossing the finish line:
I am beyond humbled at the support I have gotten around the world by crossing the finish line at the Boston Marathon yesterday. I do not feel deserving of so much recognition though, especially when there were thousands of amazing people who worked so hard and ran the entire thing. I'm totally in awe of the sheer power that they exuded.

And while that is what I originally set out to do, I was only able to go in at the 23 mile mark per doctors orders earlier in the week. Because even with as hard as I've worked and as much as I have trained, my leg still is not healed enough to endure the beating of the full marathon since I only had my amputation in November. So I had to make the tough decision to compromise and only try to run 3.2 miles. And believe was tough because I was totally bummed about it. So we came up with 3 miles because each one symbolizes a month of learning to walk on my prosthetic, Felicia (who came into my life January 7th.)

And yesterday EVERYTHING was working against me. The rain alone, caused other injuries I have to flare up, and my leg was so swollen and in excruciating pain as a result. About half way through I hit a small pothole with my running blade. It wasn't enough to make me fall, but it was enough to make my knee twist pretty hard and be escorted in a cop car up the road another 1/2 mile. I stopped for adjustments. (To add more socks as my leg shrunk for all my fellow amputees out there.) And overall, I honestly have just had way more successful runs. But that's life right?

And when I put everything into perspective, for me it wasn't about how many miles I could run. It was that I COULD run. 6 months ago, I couldn't even walk. And while I worked as hard as I could to prepare for the entire thing, the most important mile to me was Boylston Street. That moment when I got to run past the place where I nearly lost everything, and not stop until I made it across the finish line.

That is the single reason why I was so overcome with emotion when I fell down to my knees at the end. Because to me, by doing that, I was reclaiming my life. I was showing myself that I am not destroyed. And even though I am not up to 26.2 miles quite yet, what I stronger. And there won't be a day that goes by that I don't try to show that because no matter what...I am also very BLESSED. And yesterday was only the beginning....of many many more miles.

Thanks to each of you for your overwhelming support, and for being a part of my journey.

"This is the day I take my life back."
is the caption for this photo:

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7

One would think that after all that was lost near the finish line on 4/15/13, that the Richard Family would stay as far away from the Boston Marathon as possible and yet there they were on Monday, creating better memories cheering on all 73 members of the Team MR8 Foundation. Sean Astin eloquently shares his observations:

Boston Marathon 2015. Finish Line.
Denise and Jane Richard are cheering and smiling as each of the 73 members of their Team MR8 come across.

I did what I said and tried to honor young Martin Richard (8yrs old) as I passed the site of the tragedy, by reflecting on everything that happened that day and since. After 4hrs and 49 minutes of cold and rainy 26.2 mile crowd fueled, leg demolishing awesomeness, I had prepared myself to end the run on a note of reverence.

Then there they were, Jane (9yrs old), standing, jumping up and down, with her prosthetic leg, courtesy of that awful day and Martin's mom, Denise with a huge smile of, can you believe it, gratitude of all things. A smile back and a kiss on the hand later, I turned and lost it.

News media and others around, so I bottled it, but something wonderful happens inside when the electricity of greatness visits you. This family, no fear, not a shred of perceptible anxiety, even if they privately had some. They were enjoying themselves. What a lesson. What an incredible demonstration, not just of resilience and faith and goodness, but of grace and wisdom. It's people like this that are the best hope for advancing our too often beleaguered civilization. This is what progress looks like.

My answer was to race back to the starting line in Hopkinton and alone, in the dark and comically stormy night, cycled my way back across the 26.2 mile Marathon route. Even though they had a 2.5 hour head start, I caught race director, Dave McGillivray and his intrepid amphibious running mates and their motor cade, 800 yards from the finish line.


That duathlon was the official kickoff to my Ironman Kona training. October 10th on the big Island of Hawaii, I'm gonna test myself again.

But for now, I'll simply saturate in yesterdays overwhelming and gratifying experience.

Our Team MR8 raised over $780,000. My friends, family, colleagues, supporters, fans and all of you here on Facebook, Sponsored my run and raised $22,000. There were, I believe 450 of you all, and I estimate that the average donation was between $25 and $50, with a few people putting in $1k or more that jacked the number up a little higher.

You all gave the Richard Family and the foundation they established in their late son's honor a financial boost. This money equals just a little more power to make some decisions to help a bunch of people. Good work everyone! I thank you with every fiber of my being.

As for all of you who made personal #run3rd dedications for your loved ones and causes close to you, I read them all and I carried them all in my heart as I ran. As predicted, Team MR8 and your trust bolstered my run so so much. So, thank you for those.

You can still donate to the Team so if you feel like it, here's the link:

Much Love, Respect & Gratitude Always,


Be blessed and journey well. Here's to all good things!

My latest book, "Journey Well" is now available on Amazon along with all of my inspirational books. 50% of book proceeds are donated to the Massachusetts Resiliency Center, a safe, welcoming space for survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing to heal and stay in touch with one another; a virtual hub for a widely dispersed community whose lives have been impacted by the tragic events of April 15th and the events that followed.

When terror struck the world's oldest and most beloved marathon on April 15, 2013, it was a defining moment in Mary McManus’ life and the lives of all those in Boston and around the world. It was her wake up call to return to the sport and community that have been medicine and a lifeline for her throughout her marathon of healing the late effects of paralytic polio and experiencing 9 years of domestic violence as a child and adolescent. Mary captures the essence of Boston Strong through her experience of the 2014 Boston Marathon and as she profiles the people who are Boston Stronger. Through her blog posts, poems and journal entries woven together with excerpts from her memoir, “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility,” you will experience, through one woman’s journey of transformation and healing, that no matter what happens to us, we can all learn to journey well.

1 comment:

  1. Could you please add a link to Sean' original FB post? Thank you, and thank you for sharing these inspirational stories!