Only days after the Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was convicted on all 30 counts brought against him, one of the survivors returned to cross the finish line.
On April 15, 2013, Rebekah Gregory DiMartino was standing near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, waiting with her fiance for his mother to cross the finish line when the homemade pressure cooker bomb went off, badly injuring her legs – especially her left leg.
As a result of the blast, Rebekah ( mother of a 7-year-old son, Noah, who was also wounded by the bomb blast) endured 2 years of persistent pain and over 15 unsuccessful surgeries. She was reliant upon a wheelchairs and crutches, and required the use of an orthotic leg brace. Ultimately, she reached the conclusion to have her left leg amputated.
In November 2014, in hopes of getting rid of the acute persistent pain, and in hopes of regaining mobility with the use of a prosthesis, Rebekah hosted a “Last Left Leg Hurrah” dinner for her leg, and posted a breakup letter to her leg on her public Facebook page. The next day, November 10, 2014, she had her left leg amputated below the knee, making her the 17th person to have lost a limb as a result of the bombing.
Rebekah has been through quite a bit since that fateful day in April 2015.
She and her fiance Pete DiMartino (also injured in the bombing) gained further notoriety when they were married in April 2014, in a very public ceremony as part of an online wedding contest sponsored by TheKnot.com. Unfortunately, after 10 months, the couple announced that were spltting. In an interview with People.com, Rebekah explained,
“While my heart is beyond broken, I have a certain peace knowing from day one, I truly gave it my all, and have been fully invested in keeping this marriage, and my commitment before God. I still love Pete with all of my heart and ask that everyone respect our privacy as we try to figure out our next steps. As for now, I am focused on doing what I feel is best for my son and I, and will concentrate my time on healing, both physically and emotionally.”
Even during such difficult times Rebekah continued to rally, and on January 7th, in a post on her Facebook page, she posted an image of her cradling her new prosthetic leg, “Felicia.”
So it wasn’t a complete surprise that someone as strong and hopeful as Rebekah, would return to the Boston marathon to cross the finish line. With the guidance of her physicians, Rebekah trained to run the last 3.2 miles of the marathon, one mile for each month spent learning to walk with her new prosthetic leg, “Felicia.”
On her Facebook page, Rebekah reflected on her run, and her journey, ”
“…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.)…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.”
“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 am….is 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.”
Images courtesy Rebekah Gregory DiMartino’s New Day New Hope Facebook page.
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