By Pat Ciarrocchi
DOYLESTOWN, Pa., (CBS) — At Tuesday’s tribute to the victims and first responders of the 2013 Boston Marathon, runner Amy O’Neill of Doylestown was among the guests.
She ran the 2013 Boston, but didn’t finish. The bombings stopped, left her with an injury and an experience that she is just now speaking about publicly.
Amy is a veteran marathon runner. The Boston was her 6th unofficial marathon. That’s because three of the six were part of Iron Man competitions. She says Boston is very different.
“Every mile of the course is lined with people,” said Amy. “They love you, they cheer for you.”
By the last mile, turning onto Boylston Street, Amy was exhilarated. The finish line was almost in sight.
“I remember feeling, you know what? This is amazing.”
“The first explosion really caught me off guard. It think it was so loud and unexpected.”
It didn’t make sense, until twelve seconds later.
“A massive explosion directly to my left had happened. Deafeningly, instinctively – you turn away covering your ears,” she said.
“I could feel debris hitting the back of my legs when I turned away. There was a lot of blood on the back of leg. However, most of it was not my blood.”
The debris was someone’s bloody flesh at her feet.
Amy had shrapnel, a crude piece of metal, embedded in her lower leg. Amy needed surgery. She knew orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Sue Griffith could help and understand. They knew each other from Doylestown. They had competed against each other in basketball as high school students. And Dr. Sue had just run the Boston too.
“She knew and I felt the same way,” said Dr. Sue, “Once the shrapnel was out, it would be the start of her healing process.”
And they agreed, if they could do more, all the better.
At Philadelphia’s Shriners Hospital for Children, they found more to do. Children with devastating injuries, lost limbs, no way to pay for a prosthesis. They thought perhaps when they run in the 2014 Boston Marathon, they could raise money to help those children.
“You see children who are dealt a particular hand,” said Dr. Sue, “And they deal with it, with such courage… they don’t let anything hold them back. ”
Neither will Amy and Sue allow a terrorist bomb hold them back.
“Keep showing up, “ said Amy. You’ve got to go back. You can’t not do what you do.”
Like erase the hate, and reclaim the Boston Marathon.
If you’re interested in helping these runners, help children at Shriners Hospital – go to this link.