On April 15, 2013, Marathon Monday in Boston – 38 year old Heather Abbott of Newport, Rhode Island set out on an annual tradition with several of her friends. They would attend the Red Sox home game and then walk over to Boylston Street to watch the marathoners cross the finish line.
Two bombs exploded in the crowd of well-wishers that afternoon. Heather was impacted by the second blast and literally blown into the entrance of a nearby restaurant. Former New England Patriots lineman Matt Chatham and his wife, Erin, saw Heather in the bloody aftermath and carried her to safety.
After three surgeries in four days, Heather was faced with an agonizing decision – face a lifetime of agonizing pain from her injuries or allow doctors to amputate her left leg below the knee. With the counsel and comfort of amputees who came to visit her in the hospital, and after much soul-searching, Heather made the difficult decision to live as an amputee.
Her recovery, as it is for so many other victims of traumatic injury, was a journey through pain, anger, fear, disbelief, self-doubt and questioning. For Heather, the ability to move forward came through the support of family and friends, fellow amputees and the countless strangers who not only sent her cards and letters of encouragement – but who also generously donated to a special fund to help her transition and receive the customized prostheses she needed to live the life she once knew.
Today, Heather is once again doing everything she loves to do, including paddle boarding, running and even wearing high heels!
Through it all, Heather has remained a model of strength and perseverance. Her determination and passion to help other limb loss victims is evident in everything she does. As a certified Peer Counselor for the American Amputee Coalition, Heather is able to provide hope and emotional healing. As a nationally-known motivational speaker, she reminds audiences of the power of positive thinking and the real impact compassionate giving can have on the life of someone in need.
For Heather, The Heather Abbott Foundation is both an obligation and an opportunity to “pay it forward” – to give other amputees who have suffered limb loss through traumatic circumstances the chance to live their life – again.