Two years ago, Rebekah Gregory stood near the finish line at the Boston Marathon, cheering on her mother-in-law, when the two bombs exploded. The bombs, set off by Chechen-American brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, took the lives of three people, and injured over 260 more. One of those injured during the 2013 Boston Marathon attack was 26-year-old Gregory, who nearly lost her life, and has since undergone 35 surgeries, including a leg amputation, to repair the damage that had been done to her as a result.
In an interview with ESPN, Rebekah talked about her terrifying experience at the 2013 Boston Marathon after the bombs went off.
“I was thrown back, and hoisted into the air before landing, hard. It was almost like my own personal horror movie, and I was the star of it. You could see pools of blood on the ground and there was flesh and bones and body parts strewn everywhere. I looked down at my legs and I didn’t see them because they were so badly mangled. I knew then that if I did make it, I was not going to make it with my legs.”
For a year and a half after the Boston Marathon bombings, doctors did everything they could to save Rebekah’s left leg. Seventeen surgeries were performed on that leg alone in an attempt to save it, but ultimately, the Boston Marathon bombings survivor decided to have it amputated. In November of 2014, she wrote her leg a “break up letter”, and it was at that point, the day before she was to have the amputation done, that Rebekah decided she was going to run in the 2015 Boston Marathon, on her new prosthetic leg, dubbed “Felicia”.
“I decided my prosthetic leg was a new addition to my family, and I wanted to treat it that way and celebrate it, so I put out this formal birth announcement.”
In preparing for the marathon, her doctors warned her against attempting to run the whole thing, saying that it would cause more damage. She decided, instead, to run just the last three and a half miles. When she began her run yesterday at mile 23 at the Boston Marathon, she twisted her knee, just above her prosthetic, and was in excruciating pain. Still determined, despite her pain, she hopped a ride in a police cruiser to mile 25, and fought through the pain, and cold, to finish the last mile and a half on her own.
On her Facebook page the morning of the Marathon, Gregory relived what had happened to her two years ago at the Boston Marathon, and showed the world that nothing, not even a prosthetic leg, could keep her down.
“This time I won’t be laying on the ground in pieces, or having to be assisted because I can’t do things on my own. This time the only thing hitting the ground will be my running shoe, as I show myself and the rest of the world that I am back, stronger than ever, and there is no stopping me now.”
As she crossed the finish line at the 2015 Boston Marathon, sporting her blue “Rebekah Strong” T-shirt, Rebekah collapsed to the ground, pain and overwhelming emotion written clearly on her face.
“I took my life back today. I want people to know that there’s life after bad things that happen to you. And if I can be someone’s hope or inspiration, that’s what I want to do.”
Two years ago, Rebekah Gregory nearly died. Two years of pain, and therapy, and surgeries to fix what was done to her at the 2013 Boston Marathon. Two years of fighting, and determination, and the will to continue on brought her to the Boston Marathon yesterday, and it was the day she took her life back.
Rebekah Gregory, marathon survivor, just finished. "I took my life back today." Just came across the finish line. pic.twitter.com/4BbDSFqS1B
— Steve Annear (@steveannear) April 20, 2015
[Image Credit: ESPN]