So this is it"¦my last update. I am feeling a little sad about it being the final post, but so happy for all we were able to accomplish over the past year to help raise money for Heather's prosthetics, and to keep all of you updated on her REMARKABLE progress. I remember the night I created the page. It was the evening before Heather would undergo a below knee amputation. I posted a link to my Facebook page and didn't write anything fancy"¦ just "Please share." And look what all of you helped us accomplish. Through over 9,000 facebook shares, we were able to raise close to $200,000.
Over the last couple of weeks Heather, along with our family and her friends, attended the anniversary tribute events, including a 1 mile walk/run for bombing survivors and a Red Sox game where first responders, survivors and runners were honored. This busy time concluded with the 118th Boston Marathon, where Heather and her friends spent the day at the Forum Restaurant, as they had planned to do last year. Aside from the six that accompanied her last year, dozens of others showed up to express their support, all wearing the new Heather Strong T-Shirts "Still Standing Strong 2014". They shared the space with the Joe Andruzzi Foundation Return to Forum Marathon Watch Party, where Heather and her savior, Matt Chatham, waited for Matt's wife Erin who ran her first marathon ever. (Erin had initially found Heather on the ground after she was struck by the bomb last year.) Heather met Erin at the corner of Comm Ave and Hereford St and joined her, on her running blade leg, for the last half mile of the race. They crossed the finish line together, arms raised, where Matt and my aunt and uncle (Heather's parents) awaited.
Other highlights from the weekend included Heather and her friends meeting Kevin Spacey. He later sat in the front row at a speech Heather delivered for the Spaulding Rehab Runners at the Revere Hotel and started a standing ovation! And Heather's friend Marc Paquette, to whom she donated a bib given to her by the BAA, ran the marathon in her honor and raised over $7,000 for her future prosthetics! What a week!
Even though this is my final planned update on "gofundme,", the site will remain open indefinitely for future donations. Heather has lots of exciting things planned over the next few months, including delivering the keynote speeches at the University of West Virginia School of Medicine's Commencement, the Physician Assistant Foundation awards dinner in Boston and the Windstorm Insurance Network conference in New Jersey, just to name a few. For future updates, please remember to "like" her Facebook page, "Heather Abbott: Road to Recovery" or follow her on Twitter @Heather_Abbott1 And if you're interested in buying a new Heather Strong T-Shirt, you can order them using the following link: http://heather-strong.myshopify.com/. Proceeds will go to Heather's Recovery Fund.
Thank you SO MUCH for all of your support over the past year. We are FOREVER grateful.
It's the weekend leading up to Marathon Monday in Boston and in case you haven't heard... Heather is running this year! She's joining Erin Chatham at the last half mile and running on her running leg to the finish line! Erin and her husband, Matt (former NFL Patriots lineman) were Heather's first responders and now her friends. They expect to meet up around 4:15 EST and you can track Erin using her bib number 29747 by texting it to 345678. It will also be aired on Universal Sports Network which is free all weekend.
Heather has been busy during the weeks leading up to the marathon, making appearances on Good Morning America, the TODAY Show, Extra and ESPN just to name a few!
Check out her Facebook page Heather Abbott: Road to Recovery to see some of the clips of her interviews this week. You can also find her on Twitter at Heather_Abbott1.
Wishing Heather good luck on Monday! I'll be back in touch for one final update after the marathon!
Heather has been busier than ever preparing for the one year anniversary since the Boston Marathon bombing. She has completed many speaking engagements including Partners' Healthcare Annual Conference for Business Development in Boston and is looking forward to delivering commencement speeches at Kean University and West Virginia University School of Medicine next month, among several others.
Heather recently traveled to Lexington, KY to be the special guest of honor at the Run the Blue Grass Half Marathon, where she met many supporters, a few horses and quite a bit of bourbon! ïŠ You may have also seen her participating in the Red Sox home opener on April 4th with other bombing survivors. Look for her again on the field for opening ceremonies on April 20th for the last big tribute by the Sox to the marathon bombing survivors.
Our family will be joining Heather, her friends, and her life savers Matt & Erin Chatham at a Brigham & Women's marathon bombing tribute event and the City of Boston's tribute event on April 15th. The following week, April 21st, is this year's Boston Marathon. Heather has been practicing her running because the BAA is going to allow her to jump in at the end of the marathon to join Erin Chatham in crossing the finish line of her first marathon. Erin initially helped Heather after being struck by the bomb's shrapnel last year.
Be sure to look for Heather on ESPN, USA Today, APB, NPR, CBS Nightly news, and Comcast Sports over the next few weeks. Heather will also be on the Today Show on April 15th.
You can purchase your "Heather Strong "“ Still Standing Strong" t-shirt by visiting the following website: http://heather-strong.myshopify.com. Orders must be placed by 2pm this Friday to ensure delivery prior to this year's Boston Marathon. A portion of the proceeds will go towards Heather's Recovery Fund.
I am looking forward to providing you all with a FINAL update following the marathon. After that post, updates will continue on the Facebook page "Heather Abbott: Road to Recovery" or on Heather's twitter page "Heather_Abbott1". Thank you all for your continued support!
About a month ago I was sitting with my husband and our daughter in the waiting room of our pediatrician's office, and I glanced over at a young girl reading a magazine. I whispered something to husband that I never would have imagined saying a year ago"¦ "Look at the foot on the cover of that magazine"¦ I think that's Heather's foot!" Sure enough it was in fact Heather's foot featured on the cover of Brown Medical Magazine's Winter edition. She was also featured in a story about when to choose amputation versus trying to save a damaged limb.
Heather's story also made it to the United Kingdom. She is featured in the April UK edition of Marie Claire magazine in a story called "Boston Bombers Won't Stop Running." The magazine is currently on sale in the UK and will be on sale at Barnes & Noble in the US around March 23rd.
Heather continues with speaking engagements around the US, including Massachusetts College of Pharmacy & Heath Services, Remax Employee Awards Gala, and Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel Conference in Marco Island, FL.
She recently attended the book release party in NYC for "Leggy Blonde," the memoir of Aviva Drescher, amputee and Real Housewives of New York City reality TV star. Heather will be making a guest appearance on an episode of the Real Housewives soon. The exact date of her appearance is TBD, but the series season premiere is Tuesday, March 11th at 9:00pm EST on Bravo TV.
On April 1st a book called "Long Mile Home" will be released. The book recalls the events of the Boston Marathon bombing, and features Heather's story as well as four other individuals affected by the attacks. Heather will be participating in various interviews and book signing events to promote sales of the book, a portion of which will go to the One Fund which benefits victims of the bombing.
It will soon be one year since that horrific day which changed her life forever. Heather will be attending the Boston Marathon next month with her friends and will also be participating in many events leading up to the one year anniversary. Look for her on the local and national news in the coming weeks.
A Facebook page has been created so that you can continue to follow Heather's progress after the one year anniversary. The page is called "Heather Abbott: Road to Recovery." Please search for it and remember to "like" it. This page also links to her Twitter account @luvpugs92.
It has been 9 months since Heather survived the Boston Marathon bombing, and she continues to make so much progress. I love having the privilege of updating all of you on her continued success.
Heather was recently recognized by Betsy Nabel, MD, President of Brigham & Women's hospital as her "One Shining Moment" of 2013 in the BWH Bulletin in an article where Dr. Nabel describes Heather as "a symbol of hope and strength in the face of difficulty." The article includes a photo of Heather in her high heel prosthetic, which is included in this update on www.gofundme.com/HeatherAbbott.
Heather's blade leg graced the cover of TOPS in Lexington, a Kentucky magazine, where the Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon's support of her recovery fund and her upcoming visit to Kentucky is discussed. Heather says she is looking forward to meeting her supporters and practicing her "y'all".
Heather also recently participated with a panel of Spaulding Rehab nurses and therapists in an educational discussion for the MGH Institute of Health Professionals. Her injury and rehabilitation was discussed to educate students on techniques and practices that work in rehab situations like hers. Heather also recently spoke at the Portsmouth, RI Rotary Club where the group presented her with a generous donation to her recovery fund.
Heather is looking forward to being featured in UK Marie Claire and UK Cosmopolitan Magazine this spring as well as other speaking engagements including the ReMax Awards dinner and Massachussets College of Pharmacy. She will also be recognized this Saturday by Brown University at their basketball game versus Yale University.
Thank you for your continued interest in Heather's recovery and for your generous contributions.
Heather has been busy as usual over the past few weeks. During the week of Thanksgiving, she was part of the "Big Blue Bug" lighting that takes place every year in Providence, Rhode Island. A week later, Heather appeared on CNN where she spoke about her stiletto prosthetic. It was a really great clip, and I've included a link to the video on CNN's website, as well as a few photos, at the bottom of this update message on www.gofundme.com/HeatherAbbott.
Heather is currently featured in the Boston Magazine Top Docs section with Dr. Crandell (her doctor from her time at Spaulding Rehabilitation) and co-marathon amputee & friend, Roseann Sdoia. This December issue is on shelves now.
There is a lot to look forward to in 2014! Heather will be recognized at the Brown vs. URI basketball game on January 2nd at Brown University. She will also be featured in the January edition of two magazines: TOPS Kentucky & Brown Medical. Heather has also booked several speaking engagements. She continues to be an inspiration to us all.
Thank you, as always, for all of your continued support for Heather and for our family. We wish everyone a very happy holiday season.
Chances are, you have probably seen Heather on TV over the past few weeks"¦ that's because she has been showing off her new high heel prosthetic all around town! That's right"¦ 4 inch heels! When she debuted her new prosthetic, she happened to be wearing a Nine West shoe! The company was so excited about Heather's choice, that they called and said they would be sending a gift! We love Nine West!
Over the past month, Heather went to San Diego to practice more running with the Challenged Athlete's foundation. She also posed for an ad in RI Local and Motif Magazine this month supporting the American Cancer Society. We can't keep track of all of her speaking engagements because there are just so many! She recently spoke at Salve Regina University, the Naval Academy, and Broad Street Middle School in Wakefield, RI about overcoming adversity.
A few weeks ago I was visiting Heather with my daughter, and asked her what she was up to that night. Her response, "I'm going to be on the field for Game 2 of the World Series tonight"¦ With James Taylor!" "¦ Just a normal day for this cousin of mine. Heather, along with other Boston Marathon Survivors, stood by him while he sang America the Beautiful. Once the Red Sox WON the World Series, Heather saw them off to the Rolling Rally Parade after breakfast at Fenway!
Many generous donations continue to come in"¦ Most recently, Heather was presented with a $5,000 donation from the RI Associated General Contractors.
Heather went to an all day training session at Spaulding and is now a Certified Peer Counselor to other amputees! She is really looking forward to helping others cope with limb loss the same way that she has been helped.
Tune into CBS tonight at 5pm to see Heather and Joe Andruzzi on "Courage in Sports."
Tonight at 7pm EST, WCVB-TV Channel 5 will air a one-hour special program in advance of the six-month anniversary of the attack on the Boston Marathon.
Boston Strong: Reunited brings together survivors, first responders and civilian heroes for the first time on television. The gathering, taped Sept. 19 at Northeastern University, features personal triumphs and trials, heartwarming stories and two surprise reunions between those injured and the strangers who helped save their lives.
If you're not in the Boston area, you can watch a live stream of the program on www.WCVB.com. Tune in to see Heather soon!
In case you didn't see her on the big screen, this past Friday, Heather participated in a ceremony along with Joe Andruzzi and Matt Chatham, former NFL Patriots linemen and Heather's "life savers", at the Red Sox vs Tampa Bay playoff game. Boston police, medical personnel and bombing survivors were all honored at the game, where the grass on the field was cut to read "B Strong".
On Saturday, Heather was presented with a running "blade" leg by the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) at Nike Town on Newbury Street and she tested it out at a running clinic held by CAF at Harvard on Sunday. She had the opportunity to run with Joan Benoit Samuelson, 2 time Boston Marathon winner and Olympic Gold medalist.
"It was great to be out there being active again, although my residual limb was pretty sore from all of the new activity and added pressure. I still can't wait to get out there and try it out again!"
Dorset, in England, is putting the final touches on Heather's high heel leg! Can you believe she decided to make it a FOUR inch heel? Heather is really excited about it"¦ It will be complete with a high definition silicone cosmetic cover sometime next week!
(If you are reading this via an automatic feed through facebook, be sure to click on the "gofundme" link to view photos!)
On Thursday, September 12th, the All32in17 non-profit organization along with the New England Patriots sponsored an incredible night that paired those who lost limbs in the Boston Marathon Bombing with Wounded Warriors. It was a great opportunity for Heather to interact with others who have undergone amputations and succeeded in continuing on with their lives. Additionally, almost all of the Marathon amputees were present. Heather said, "It was terrific to reconnect with those I hadn't seen in a while. We had a chance to greet some of the players on the field and sat in the club section to watch the game. Not to mention"¦ did you see how close I was to Tom Brady?!??"
With only 2 hours of sleep, Heather hopped on a plane the next morning to head to New York City! It was her first experience going through security and flying with a prosthetic leg. In New York, she met up with Aviva Drescher and Erik Schaffer at A Step Ahead Prosthetics to film an episode of the Real Housewives of New York! Stay tuned for the air date, which will be sometime in February or March.
Heather also had the honor of accepting a check for $30,000 on behalf of the One Fund, donated by All State Insurance at their half marathon on September 15th. She also participated in an interview for Boston's WCVB Channel 5 in anticipation of the 6 month mark since the bombings. The interview will air on Monday, October 14th at 7:00pm.
The following link includes a video that Heather put together to thank her family and friends in Newport who supported her over the past 5 months.
She never ceases to amaze us! This past weekend Heather went out paddle boarding on her waterproof leg. She also now has a leg that she can wear 4-inch heels with! The leg will soon be sent to England so that it will look almost identical to her biological leg, making it difficult to tell which leg is her prosthetic.
The following video appeared on CBS Boston this evening and highlights Heathers continued steps in her recovery.
It has been 4 months since the Boston Marathon bombing, and Heather continues to progress each and every day. She returned to work this past week, on a part time basis, and was greeted with a "Welcome Back Heather Abbott" sign and a reception at the Raytheon Portsmouth office.
Multiple fundraisers have been held for Heather. Mark Gemma of Gemma Law Associates hosted a fundraiser at Blu on the Water and raised over $5,000.00 for the Heather Abbott Recovery Fund. Bridge to Fitness also hosted a fundraiser with the Newport Gulls and they raised over $8,000.00!
Heather has been speaking at various events. Over the past few weeks she spoke to the Superintendents of RI schools at their annual meeting, and also spoke about overcoming adversity at the RI Film Festival.
This week, Heather went to the reopening of Forum with her friends who were with her on Marathon Monday. Members of the Joe Andruzzi foundation were also in attendance, including Matt and Erin Chatham, Kimberly Hoyt, and Peter Riddle who all helped save Heather's life on April 15th.
Heather also attended the Zac Brown Band concert this week. The theme of the night was "Boston Strong" and Heather and other survivors were honored at an "Eat & Greet" prior to the concert, where Zac and the band served dinner. How cool is that? Marc Fucarile and Jessica Kensy Downes were also in attendance. Both lost a limb and are fighting to keep their remaining legs.
In terms of her physical progress, Heather started doing some running at Physical Therapy, and her water leg is now ready to go! Her next goal"¦ paddle boarding!
Early last week, Heather was fitted for her high heel leg and started to practice walking on it with her four inch heels!
Later in the week, she was invited, along with bombing victims Mery Daniel & Adrianne Haslet-Davis, to attend the Beyonce Concert at TD Garden in Boston. Beyonce invited them to her dressing room for a meet-and-greet prior to the show, where they took pictures and had the opportunity to speak with her. She recognized them during her song "Survivor," giving them a shout-out and honoring all of the Boston Marathon bombing victims.
On Sunday, Heather threw out the first pitch at the Pawtucket Red Sox gave, where the Pawsox presented her with a $2,500 check to be donated to the Boston One Fund. After leaving the game, she headed over to the hospital to visit her new baby cousin, Addison Grace, to welcome her into the world! We were so happy to have her visit and Addie misses Auntie Heather already!
Heather is being fitted for her fourth socket today, which is carbon rather than plastic. This will make for a much lighter and less bulky leg. She also ordered her "water leg" and hopes to be in the water sometime in August!
A Golf Tournament was held for Heather on Sunday, June 30th at the Foster Country Club to help raise funds for Heather. Thankfully, the rain held off and the event raised around $3,500.00 with approximately 80 people in attendance! The tournament was followed by a dinner which Heather and her parents, Rosemary and Dale, attended.
The dinner included a raffle with prizes donated by: Dave's Marketplace, Boston Celtics, Boston Bruins, Pawtucket Red Sox, Valley Country Club, Newport National Golf Club, Chili's, Outback Steakhouse and many others.
Heather attended the dinner with her mother and father, Rosemary & Dale. There were many familiar faces from Raytheon at the event!
Brian Dunphy and his team won the tournament with a score of 8 under.
A special thanks to Todd Matheny who organized the event, and Timothy DelGiudice & Matt Stevens who helped recruit golfers and bring in donations.
Heather was honored at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway Championship luncheon near Fenway Park this week. Other bombing victims and first responders were honored, as well as Boston Sports champions Jo Jo White of the Celtics, Tim Wakefield of the Red Sox, Joe Andruzzi of the Patriots, Jimmie Johnson of NASCAR, and Johnny Bucyk of the Bruins. Included here is a photo from this event.
Heather was also featured on Channel 10 & Channel 12 news this week working with her prosthesis "coach", Lou Vivas, at Next Step in Warwick, and she is walking with no crutches! She continues to progress with her walking is working every day to eliminate her limp. Here is a clip of the news feature from Channel 10!
Last week, Heather attended the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) gala in New York City where several Boston marathon victims were honored. Among the crowd was Bill Walton, retired NBA basketball player (pictured with Heather below).
This past Saturday night, Heather went to see her favorite local band, Never In Vegas, and even danced for a song or two in the front row (with just a little help).
Heather is doing remarkably well this week. She is starting to walk on her prosthetic with no crutches. She has even started to walk up and down stairs!! She is getting fitted for her second socket today, because her leg has been shrinking so much over the past 2 weeks.
All in all, we are all inspired by her rapid progress each and every day!
Last Thursday, June 6th, Heather was customer fitted during a 5-hour session for her new temporary prosthetic at Next Step Orthotics & Prosthetics in Warwick, RI. She took her first steps the same day. Wearing the prosthetic leg, Heather has spent many hours at Olympic Physical Therapy in Middletown, RI, learning to retrain her body to walk, using her left leg. This link to the Providence Journal's website includes a video of Heather walking on her new prosthetic leg.
A few days later, a fundraising event was held for Heather on Sunday evening at the Atlantic Beach Club in Newport, RI. She posted this photo right before she left her apartment to head over, sporting her new leg! A message from Heather was posted to her facebook page the next day: "Thank you to everyone who came out last night to the Atlantic Beach Club to support my recovery fund. It was great to meet so many new people and see so many of my friends. A very special thank you to Elaine at ABC and James Montgomery who were instrumental in the event's success. It was a terrific opportunity to debut my new leg! This recovery has been such a long and difficult experience. People who show their support have played a huge part in making it a little easier. I can't thank you enough!"
Go pick up your copy of People Magazine today... Heather is not only on the cover, but there is a full page spread on her!
Earlier in the week, Heather was cleared for her temporary prosthetic, and by yesterday was up and walking on it, using crutches... amazing progress!! It was so amazing to see the videos and watch her walk! We are all so proud and inspired by her courage every day.
I received this email last month through this fundraising website and wanted to share...
"I had such an AMAZING day and night yesterday, and one of the greatest honors, and want to share it with my FB friends. My friend Jamie Iamamonkey Wilson, who is a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines, reached out to me a couple weeks ago and said she would be accompanying some Wounded Warriors from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to Boston via donated buddy passes from Southwest and that they wanted to visit with some of the injured people from the Marathon Bombings and attend a Red Sox game and asked if I could help arrange both activities. HELL YEAH! First thought, gotta introduce these guys to Heather Abbott, thinking how much both she and this group of Wounded Warriors-made up of 7 Marines injured in Afghanistan and or Iraq, including Kyle Carpenter, who has been nominated for the Medal of Honor for selflessly jumping on a grenade to protect his buddy. Kyle suffered severe injuries to his face, hands and arms, including the loss of his right eye. They arrived at Spaulding Rehab in Charlestown via a pink Duck Boat after a complimentary tour of the City. I walked Heather into the family lounge on her floor. The Marines each walked up one by one and shook her hand. They then formed a wide semi circle around her. It was a little awkward at first, but once the ice was broken the Marines with their war injuries, all of them missing a leg, and Heather with basically the same, discussed the difficulty in adjusting, the therapy, the types of prosthetics out there, being active, etc. The conversation went on for over 30 minutes. I know both Heather and the Marines all walked away with mutual appreciation and respect from the meeting. Thank you Heather for making yourself available to meet with the Wounded Warriors, I know they were inspired by your strength and courage like so many others of us who have been following your story and recovery."
It has been an extremely busy week for Heather! She headed back to Boston earlier in the week for a few major interviews! First on the list"¦ a lunch with Michelle Obama and other victims of the Boston Marathon bombing at the Taj Hotel. Our First Lady spent a short amount of time with each family and actually invited Heather to the White House!!
Not sure if you were able to tune in Friday evening, but Heather was interviewed by Brian Williams with five other female bombing victims from Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. The interview aired this past Friday at 10pm. It was a very moving interview. If you missed out, catch up on that interview here: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/21134540/vp/52064547.
Heather also did a "photo shoot" with some of the other bombing victims for People Magazine. Be sure to pick up a copy this Friday!
And if you think that wasn't enough of a busy schedule"¦ Heather also attended the One Fund concert with 6 of her friends this past week. She got to sit in the front row and Donny from NKOTB asked her if he could sit next to her to watch Aerosmith perform! How cool is that? Included here is a photo of Heather with some of her friends and members of NKOTB at the concert.
While there were lots of exciting things for Heather to focus on this past week, she also had another frustrating and painful moment. As she was leaving the concert, she stopped by the restroom on her crutches. Unfortunately, the floor was wet and her left crutch slid, and she took her second fall. Heather said it was "very very painful, but looks okay."
This upcoming week is a big one for Heather"¦ She has an appointment with her surgeon tomorrow, where she is hoping to be cleared to be fitted for her first prosthetic! Let's keep all of the thoughts and prayers going for Heather as she recovers from her fall, and gets ready to walk again!
One week ago today was "Heather Abbott Day" in the city of Newport, RI, an exciting and very busy weekend for Heather. A kickboxing/zumba fundraiser was held for her at the Middletown YMCA on Saturday. She then zipped off to Cranston on Sunday morning to be at my baby shower (because that's the kind of awesome cousin Heather is), and then was back down to Newport in time for her incredible Welcome Home party at the Rosecliff mansion. I don't know how she does it all...
Over the course of this past week, Heather had a photo shoot for RI Monthly Magazine and was interviewed for an article that will be published in the July edition which comes out in June. Be sure to pick up a copy!
Heather did have a bit of a scare this week... She fell this past Tuesday, May 21st while she was at home. The doorbell rang, and she went to get up off the couch. Forgetting she didn't have a whole leg, she took her first step with her left, and fell right to the ground. Heather has been in quite a bit of pain since her fall. She called her doctor's office and they said that as long as the incision looked okay, she should just rest it and ice it. Her physical therapist said it appears to be bruised on the back side, but wouldn't hold her up in getting a temporary prosthetic. Heather is hoping to be cleared on June 4th to be fitted. Not to worry, Astro the pug came to visit her which brought up her spirits! (If you know Heather at all, you know what a pug-lover she is!)
"Don't get used to seeing me this way...I am determined to start walking again as soon as possible and I am quite certain that absolutely nothing will get in my way." - A quote from Heather, May 19th - Heather Abbott Day.
Heather was welcomed back home to Newport at a wonderful event at the Rosecliff mansion yesterday. The Newport Preservation Society was kind enough to donate the venue and Russell Morin Fine Catering donated their catering services. The music, provided by Sean Rivers, John Erikson, Dave Stejna and the AOH Pipe & Drum Band was fantastic.
Christian Winthrop of Newport Buzz and Olga Enger of Newport Patch put a great deal of effort into making the event such a success, and it did not go unnoticed.
Governor Lincoln Chafee, Senator Jack Reed, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Congressman David Cicilline, Congressman Jim Langevin, Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, Vice Mayor Naomi Neville, former Patriots player Matt Chatham and hundreds of friends, family members and suporters showed up to support Heather.
Heather made a beautiful speech thanking all of those who have helped her get through the last month... and it was difficult to find a dry eye in the room.
May 19, 2013 was declared "Heather Abbott Day" in the city of Newport, and we will certainly never forget it.
(Photo of Heather and the friends that are also Boston Marathon bombing survivors.)
Heather arrived home in Newport on Saturday evening after a very exciting day at Fenway that she says she will never forget. I got a text from her Sunday morning saying she slept like a rock... and was so excited to be home sleeping in her own bed.
She has spent time this week at Olympic in Middletown getting physical therapy to help prepare her for the temporary prosthetic leg which she should be fitted for in early June. She has also spent lots of time visiting prosthetics providers. Location, cost and her comfort working with the provider are all factors in determining which provider she will choose.
My aunt Rosemary (Heather's mom) has spent the week in Newport helping Heather get readjusted. She has helped tremendously with cleaning, putting things away, and chauffeuring Heather to al of her various appointments.
Heather still has lots of visitors. Every night a new crowd arrives... many offering to cook or bring dinner to her. We are all so happy she is back in Rhode Island and excited to continue to watch her progress over the next few months!
What an emotional weekend! We arrived to Spaulding on Saturday morning to help Heather pack the car to head back to Rhode Island. One important stop on the way... Fenway Park.
When we arrived to the Red Sox game, there was a wheelchair ready, and Heather was taken directly to the field and greeted by many of her closest friends proudly wearing their royal blue "Heather Strong" t-shirts. Cameras flashed away, both the press, and friends and family members capturing the moments. Due to some rain, the game was a bit delayed, but that didn't stop Heather from keeping a smile on her face the entire time.
After the National Anthem, Heather got up from her wheelchair, grabbed her crutches, and made her way out to the pitcher's mound with her phsyical therapist, Dara, by her side. She threw the ceremonial first pitch to Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. A crowd of 30,000 cheered her on. It was truly amazing.
Heather headed back to Newport last night, after the game. She posted a status update to facebook when she arrived to her home: "No place I would rather be. Finally!!!"
Heather went to Boston on April 15th for the Marathon Monday Red Sox game, and will return to Fenway tomorrow to throw the first pitch, almost one month after that day that changed her life forever. And we are pretty sure she will still have that amazing smile on her face, as she has through it all.
As you have all seen over the past month, she is a remarkable woman with so much strength and perseverance. We can't wait to have her back home tomorrow.
Heather is doing remarkably well. She had the staples removed from the end of her amputated leg yesterday. She said there must have been over 50 of them, and was a very painful experience to have them pulled out one by one... but she is happy to have them out. She is excited to be an honoree at the Red Sox game this Saturday, and then she'll be coming home! We are all very much looking forward to her return to Rhode Island.
Heather got to meet Bob Kraft, Owner of the New England Patriots, this week. Here is a photo of them with some of Heather's friends and family.
Heather is now "cast-less," as she put it. Her cast fell off last night, so she no longer has the added weight to bring her down. She has had lots of visitors over the past few days, and has spent time outside enjoying the beautiful weather we've had.
Heather will be the spokeswoman at the Red Sox game this Saturday, and then hopefully coming home to Rhode Island, shortly thereafter. We are all looking forward to having her smile and positive spirit around more often!
Here is a great photo of Heather holding her gigantic cast (smiling because she no longer has it on)!
Don't forget to purchase your "We Won't Stop Running. We Won't Forget" t-shirts to support Heather. I know a few people who are planning on running in upcoming races in Heather's name, and these shirts would be great for that! These T-shirts (designed by a friend of Heather's) are $15.00 and available in sizes Youth XS - Adult 4XL through this upcoming Tuesday, May 7th.
Heather did an interview yesterday with NBC 10. The article begins with a powerful and very accurate sentence: "The first thing that strikes you about Heather Abbott is not that the lower part of her left leg is gone. It's her attitude."
Check out the following link to hear the full interview:
If anyone is interested in buying a royal blue "Heather Strong" T-shirt, please email John at firstname.lastname@example.org by THIS FRIDAY, May 3rd. Your subject line should say "Heather Strong Shirts" and please be sure to specify the sizes you need. (Available sizes: Adult S - 3XL, and Youth Small - XL). Any questions on your T-shirt order should be directed to John at the email address provided.
Here is a photo of our family showing off the shirts at the fundraiser this weekend!
"Again, I am humbled by the generosity of my family, friends and the Newport, RI community.
Josh Miles , Michelle Miles and the staff at Speakeasy Bar- how can I begin to thank you? Your support for my recovery is incredible! I will always remember what you have done for me and I know that my family and friends appreciate you as much as I do.
As for the fundraiser on Sunday, I am practically speechless! What an overwhelming success! Thank you to all involved in planning the event, the bands who were generous enough to dedicate their time, those who donated items for the auction and all of you who attended. I wish I could have been there myself to thank you all in person. My family is still in awe at the way the Newport community has come together to support me, in fact my mom told me that she feels as though she has a whole other family that she just met for the first time.
I'm working hard in rehab to get back to my favorite city ASAP. I'm completely focused on a quick recovery. Thank you for allowing me to do that. Heather Strong!!!"
Today is Heather's first full day at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston. She is fortunate to be in such an outstanding place as she works hard with clinicians to find her strength by regaining her highest possible level of functioning so she can go back to living her life in Newport.
Spaulding has been ranked as the #5 rehabilitation hospital in the country by U.S. News & World Report for 2011-12 and is the only rehabilitation hospital in New England ranked each year since 1995.
Heather had occupational therapy this morning and is currently in physical therapy this afternoon. Here is a photo of her with an umbrella in her can of ginger ale, with a smile on her face!
Wow... Where to even begin? What an INCREDIBLE day. Yesterday, an unbelievable fundraiser for Heather was held at the Dockside in Newport, RI.
Lots of people who love Heather dedicated a ton of time into planning and hosting a remarkable event. The support was overwhelming and absolutely amazing.
Walking in, and seeing a sea of blue "Heather Strong" tshirts throughout the crowd, all of Heather's friends, our family, and strangers who just wanted to be there to help...I can't even explain what that felt like. I was so proud to call Heather my cousin and so thankful for all of the amazing people in her life that arranged such an outstanding event.
There were T-shirts, "Boston Strong" bracelets, banners, pre-printed cards, food, raffles, a silent auction... so many people there to help run the event. The bands were incredible... Chopville, Those Guys NPT, Blockhead, Never In Vegas.... just amazing.
Together, over 1600 of you raised more than $50,000 to support Heather's recovery.
A great big "THANK YOU" to all of you who organized and volunteered your time to make this possible. It was truly remarkable, and we will never forget it.
Last night Heather was sitting up in bed and for the first time, was hooked up to no machines. No oxygen.... no IV... no nerve blocker. She was even able to lift her left leg for the first time, which hasn't been easy with the heavy weight of her cast. It was great to see how proud she was that she could do this. She walked with the walker from her room to the patient waiting room next door... It took a lot of energy, but she did it.
We had a line up of what channel we needed to tune into at what time. 6:30 was the CBS news... 7:30 was EXTRA, 8:30 was CNN with Anderson Cooper. It was great to watch her listen to her own story on the TV in the hospital room.
She got a little teary talking about how wonderful the nurses have been at Brigham & Women's. She told a few stories to us about how comforting and kind they had been to her... how some of the nurses who had taken care of her in ICU still came to visit her. What a wonderful staff they are.
Yesterday Heather spent a few hours with Aviva from the Real Housewives of New York.... a perfect person for to spend time with. Aviva shared lots of helpful stories with Heather and answered some of the many questions Heather had about what it is like to live with a prosthetic leg.
We are all proud to be part of Heather's life, and to continue to help her through this journey (though in so many ways, she truly is helping all of us.)
It is truly amazing how much generosity there is in the world. Together, your contributions have totaled over $100,000!
When we set up the fund for Heather, we knew she would need the financial help, but we didn't have a full understanding of the costs Heather would be faced with. We learn every day that Heather's journey back to a feeling of normality will be full of costs that we're all still struggling to fully comprehend.
After doing some research, we found an article which details some of these costs. Please read this article from the New York Times to better understand how your donations will help Heather.
Former New England Patriots football player, Matt Chatham, and his wife Erin, came to visit Heather today along with members of the Joe Andruzzi Foundation. Matt & his wife came to Heather's rescue after she had been injured by the second explosion at the Boston Marathon bombing on Monday, April 15, 2013.
Heather will speak with media at a press conference at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) today, April 25 at 2:30 p.m. Dr. Eric Bluman, an orthopedic surgeon at BWH who has cared for Heather will also speak to media.
As my Facebook status says, "my cousin is pretty freakin awesome." :) Heather seems to get stronger every day. Today was the first day that she got up out of bed and used a walker to get from the bed to the doorway. She said it was painful and didn't seem like much but we reminded her what an accomplishment this was. "A little at a time..." I told her... "Be patient."
Heather stayed out of bed sitting in a chair today. She talked about some celebrities she may be meeting and we laughed about trying to get her on "Cupcake Wars." For those of you who don't know, Heather is an amazing baker. We have been trying to get her to open up a bakery for years!
She has moved from IV pain medicine to pills, and rated her pain as a "5" tonight. She continues to impress us with her strength and endurance.
Heather will be moved to rehab within a week and we all are so happy to continue to watch her progress. Heather is our hero.
Another great article which appeared in the Providence Journal today:
Newport woman recuperating after surgery
Heather Abbott, 38, said to be "˜in great spirits' after having lower left leg amputated
By RICHARD SALIT JOURNAL STAFF WRITER and ALLEN G. BREED ASSOCIATED PRESS
One day after having surgery to amputate her lower leg, a Newport woman injured in the Boston Marathon bombings said she was recuperating and looking forward to speaking in more detail once doctors give her the OK.
Heather Abbott, 38, answered the telephone in her room Tuesday at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, where she has been a patient since the April 15 terrorist attack severely injured her left foot. She said she felt well enough to speak but that her doctors had advised her to take more time to recover before giving interviews.
"She's doing wonderfully," said Julie Moura, a cousin from Cranston who visited Abbott following her surgery on Monday. "She was in great spirits. We feel like we should be helping her but she's helping all of us."
Abbott, who was rescued by her fast-responding friends and has been visited in the hospital by First Lady Michelle Obama, gave an interview to the Associated Press just before her surgery on Monday.
She recounted attending the traditional Boston Red Sox Patriots Day game with a few friends and afterward going with them to Forum, a pub near the marathon finish line where someone they knew worked. The bombs went off while Abbott was at the rear of a line that spilled out onto the sidewalk on Boylston Street.
While waiting to have her ID checked by bouncers, the first of the two bombs exploded. She was scrambling to get off the sidewalk when the second explosion seconds later knocked her down.
"I felt like I was watching the footage on 9/11," said Abbott, who immediately suspected terrorism.
When she tried to get up, her left foot felt "as if it were on fire."
"Somebody please help me," she called out in the midst of the chaos.
She'd begun to give up hope when a woman walked up and began dragging her toward the door, quietly reciting a Catholic prayer as she tugged.
"Hail Mary, full of grace "¦ ," the woman intoned.
The woman pulled Abbott a few feet when a burly man stepped in, picked her up and carried her out the back door into an alley. She would later learn it was former Patriots linebacker Matt Chatham, there to help former teammates raise money for offensive guard Joe Andruzzi's cancer foundation.
Then her friends arrived at her side.
"Please give her to me," said Jason Geremia.
After the linebacker lay Abbott on the ground and rushed off to help others, Alfred Colonese, of Newport, took some extreme lifesaving measures. He took off his belt and used it as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding.
The friends were preparing to carry Abbott out when a medic appeared and told them not to move her. Soon, rescuers appeared with a gurney and wheeled her outside. Ab-bott couldn't look at her foot, but as she glanced back she couldn't help but see a trail of her own blood.
In the ambulance, Abbott, who is single, had the paramedics call her parents, Rosemary and Dale Abbott, of Lincoln. She was rushed into surgery to treat her severely injured ankle and foot, the first of several operations . The last one was her decision.
She had been told that if she kept her foot, it would likely not heal fully and result in chronic pain. Her option was amputation several inches below the knee and a prosthetic that would likely allow her to return to some of her favorite sports, including aerobics, running and paddle-boarding.
"It sounded to me like the best-case scenario," she said.
"She's my hero," said her father, his voice cracking with emotion. "She's stronger than I am. I'm constantly having meltdowns and she knows what has to be done."
Doctors said she would be fitted with a temporary prosthetic about four weeks after the surgery.
Before the operation, Abbott said she had not reflected much on the alleged bombers, brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
"People have let me know the second one was caught," she said, "and I don't think I've really begun to process how that makes me feel yet."
As to whether the surviving brother, Dzhokhar, should face the death penalty, she said, "I just haven't really even gone to that place yet in my head. I don't feel the anger that I'm sure I will at some point."
Abbott was born and raised in Lincoln, graduating from Lincoln High School in 1992. She went to Stonehill College and later earned a master's degree in business from Providence College. Before taking her job at Raytheon, she worked for Roger Williams University and Cintas.
Abbott has been surrounded in her hospital room every day with friends and family, just as she was when Michelle Obama posed for a picture with all of them three days after the bombing.
"They are all coping together," said Moura. "It was pretty horrific."
Moura and her sister, Jessica Zanni, started an online fundraiser for their cousin, an only child, at www.gofundme.com/HeatherAb"‰ bott"‰ .
"It will be a long road ahead for Heather, and we are hoping to relieve some of the impending financial burden by raising funds in her name," reads the website. "This will allow Heather to focus all of her energy on getting better. Please share this page with your friends and donate to help Heather and her family during this very difficult time."
Meanwhile, Newport is rallying around Abbott, who moved several years ago to the downtown area and likes to walk to its restaurants and nightspots. A fundraiser with live music will be held at the Dockside, on Sunday from 2 p.m. to closing. The suggested donation is $20.
T-Shirts will be available in all sizes throughout the weekend at Those Guys NPT shows for $25. If you order ahead of time, we can guarantee your size! Please place your order by 5pm today. 100% of proceeds will go directly to Heather's fund.
As Heather was brought back to her room after surgery, she was greeted by many of her family members and friends who applauded in happiness as they saw the smile on her face. Her hair, as we all expected, was perfect.
Heather was in great spirits. We talked about all of the great fundraising activities that are currently being planned. She opened more cards and gifts that had arrived while she was in surgery.
We watched an inspirational story on the news about another woman who had lost part of her leg this week. Heather wanted to know why she didn't get a pink cast like her.
Our family is extremely grateful for the overwhelming donations that have come in over the past 13 hours. Heather and her parents, Rosemary & Dale, can't thank you all enough for your generosity.
We think it is important for everyone to understand the impact of Heather's surgery today. Heather will undergo a below knee amputation around 12:00. Please continue to keep her in your thoughts and prayers, especially during this time and for the hours afterwards.
It will certainly be a long road ahead"¦ both physically and emotionally.
Heather will need a prosthetic foot so that she can be up and doing all of the things she could do before. For those of you who know Heather, you understand that her life is full of physical activity. She runs, she paddle-boards, she dances, and she always walks to meet her friends.
We have learned that the prosthesis can last anywhere from several months to several years. Most of these devices last an average of about three years. For this reason, we are raising these funds to help Heather with these costs as well as the additional expenses she will incur as a result of this injury.
Please share this page with everyone you know so we can continue to build financial support for Heather.
Below is a message Heather posted on her Facebook wall today... Heather's selflessness is amazing and eye-opening for all of us. Her graciousness is a blessing, and her beautiful spirit is sure to fight through all of this.
"I don't even know where to begin in thanking friends, family and the staff at Brigham & Women's during this very difficult time. And aside from them, the complete strangers who chose to help save my life while risking their own on Monday. I feel truly blessed to have everyone's support, especially my friends who were right by my side as the ambulance took me to the hospital. Jessica Guerin, Jason M. Geremia, Tommy Rao, Michelle Dalrymple, Al Colonese Jr., Jillian Baker and Jessica DiMascolo have been right there for me without any concern for how this terrible incident has effected them . Also thanks to all of the friends and family members who have visited me and/or sent their love and support. I just can't express enough how honored I am to have such wonderful people in my life to help me through this. I'm trying to respond to everyone as best I can, but there are just so many texts, messages, etc that it hasn't been easy to keep up. That certainly says a lot! Please continue to pray for me, as I have some difficult decisions to make over the next day or so related to how badly my left foot was injured. Again, thanks to all who have shown their support I really can't put into words how much it means to me."
Heather was badly injured in the blasts at the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2013. She suffered a a severe injury to her left foot which resulted in a below knee amputation. It will be a long road ahead for Heather, and we are hoping to relieve some of the impending financial burden by raising funds in her name. This will allow Heather to focus all of her energy on getting better. Please share this page with your friends and donate to help Heather and her family during this very difficult time.
In Heather's own words, "Thanks to all who have shown their support. I really can't put into words how much it means to me."
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