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Marathon Monday

Survivor symbol of hope

By Emily Lewson
On April 20, 2014

One year ago, two bombs detonated at the finish line of the historic Boston Marathon. At 2:49 p.m. on April 15, 2013, the scene went from celebratory to chaos. But from disaster, greatness sprung; participants and crowd members rushed to help the injured, saving lives and demonstrating humanity's goodness, amidst incredible adversity.
"The tragedy was a leveler that made everyone who witnessed it or felt its aftershocks feel vulnerable and exposed," an ESPN staff writer wrote.
Now, a year later, the memories remain fresh as many runners line up to race again, in the 118th Boston Marathon. It has become a time of remembrance and a demonstration of perseverance. They run for the 264 injured persons, many of who will never walk the same way, let alone run. They run for the three victims: Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell and Lingzi Lu. They run to demonstrate "Boston Strong."
One survivor, Jeff Bauman, has become a symbol of Boston's resilience. He was cheering for his girlfriend, Erin, when the bomb went off at his feet. Carols Arredondo, known as the "cowboy hat guy," rushed to Bauman's aid. With the help of Devin Wang, a Boston University junior, and Paul Mitchell, an EMT, Bauman made it to the hospital and his life was saved.
"Everyone that day took care of me. They are the heroes, because they gave me the chance to prove that I-that we-are better than cowards with bombs. That we're not broken. And we're not afraid. We're stronger," Baumann wrote in his new book "Stronger".
Bauman is the only survivor to lose both legs above the knee. He also spent the longest period in the hospital, 100 nights. Everyday has become a struggle, he wrote, as he feels exhausted after crossing the room. Every night, Bauman feels the pain in his legs, burns and remainder of his body; he often wakes up screaming.
            But through it all, Bauman has come out stronger, he said. During his recovery, Erin noted how Bauman jokes to put others at ease.
"But instead of being devastated (which deep down he was), he made jokes, he focused on the present. The moment he laughed, things didn't seem so bad," Baumann's girlfriend wrote. "When he teased, in typical Jeff fashion, 'Don't worry, E, our kids will have legs,' I knew I was there to stay."
Bauman's personality has undoubtedly been tested and he has overcome the hardest of obstacles, he wrote. With an amazing lack of self-pity, Bauman reaches out to help others. He speaks about his injuries, the event, and how to move forward.
"I don't mind being a symbol. Especially for my city," Bauman wrote. "I do as much as I can, as often as I can."
 


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