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 Boston Marathon finish line to watch the runners and gather at the Forum restaurant. However, Abbott would never have dreamed this day would change her life forever.
Abbott was struck by shrapnel from the second of the two bombs that day, which severely injured her left foot. Strangers Matt Chatham, former New England Patriots lineman, and his wife, Erin, carried Abbott to safety away from the direction of the bombs and saw her to an ambulance that brought her to Brigham and Women’s hospital.
After 3 surgeries in 4 days, Abbott was faced with the agonizing decision of whether to try to save her left foot or to allow doctors to amputate her left leg below the knee. With the help of other amputees and the support from hundreds of thousands around the country, Abbott made the difficult decision, at the age of 38, to live her remaining years as an amputee and use prosthetic legs.
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 Abbott, 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, Abbott is once again doing everything she loves to do, including paddle boarding, running and even wearing high heels!
Through it all, Abbott 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, Abbott 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 Abbott, 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.
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