Boston Marathon Bombing survivor inspires at Possibilities

March 4, 2020

On April 15, 2013 – Marathon Monday in Boston – 38-year-old Heather Abbott 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, just as they had always done in previous years.

But this year was different. Little did she know this day would forever change her life.

Two bombs exploded in the crowd of well-wishers that afternoon. Standing in line at the door of a restaurant, Heather and two of her friends heard the first bomb explode. In the resulting confusion and terror, there was hardly time to think before the second blast literally blew Heather into the restaurant entrance. Screaming and running for the rear exit, patrons rushed through the restaurant. Heather tried to follow, but her foot felt on fire and she couldn’t get up from the floor. Former New England Patriots lineman Matt Chatham and his wife, Erin, saw Heather in the bloody aftermath and carried her to safety. The bombing had killed three people and wounded more than 200.

After three surgeries in four days, Heather was faced with an agonizing decision – live forever with the excruciating 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.

Heather decided to turn a negative into a positive by starting a foundation to buy prosthetics for those who otherwise couldn’t afford them. She shared her inspirational message to “pay it forward” with a crowd of 800 at the 17th Annual Possibilities Luncheon March 3.

Possibilities is Siskin Hospital’s only community-wide fundraiser. Proceeds benefit Siskin Hospital’s Charity Care Fund. Last year, 48 patients with no insurance or insufficient insurance received the expert therapy care they needed at no cost to them ($741,757 total).

The Possibilities Luncheon also featured an inspirational video highlighting a Siskin Hospital patient who overcame disability and was a recipient of a charity grant.

A dedicated Steering Committee, led by Jeff and Cindy Messinger, is working with Siskin Hospital staff to help coordinate the luncheon.  Siskin Hospital thanks Unum, which has been the Premier Event Sponsor of the Possibilities Luncheon for 17 years. Additional thanks go to Brewer Media as the Primary Broadcast Sponsor; Chattanooga Times Free Press as the Principal Press Sponsor; and Hamico, Inc. as Presenting Speaker Sponsor.