Heather Abbott '96, Heather Abbott Foundation

As runners participate in this year’s Virtual Boston Marathon, Heather Abbott ’96 reflects not on what she lost in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing but what she gained.

Abbott was struck by shrapnel from the second bomb and after three surgeries in four days, she was faced with an agonizing decision – face a lifetime of 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, Abbott made the difficult decision to live as an amputee.

Her recovery was a journey through pain, anger, fear, disbelief, self-doubt and questioning. For Abbott, the ability to move forward came through the support of family and friends, fellow amputees and the countless strangers who not only sent her cards and letters of encouragement, but who also generously donated to a special fund to help her transition and receive the customized prostheses she needed to live the life she once knew.

Today, Abbott is once again doing everything she loves to do, including paddle boarding, running and even wearing high heels!

Embodying Stonehill’s mission to lead with courage, Abbott has remained a model of strength and perseverance. Her determination and passion to help other limb loss victims is evident in everything she does. As a certified peer counselor for the American Amputee Coalition, Abbott is able to provide hope and emotional healing. As a nationally-known motivational speaker, she reminds audiences of the power of positive thinking and the real impact compassionate giving can have on the life of someone in need. For Abbott, the Heather Abbott Foundation is both an obligation and an opportunity to “pay it forward” – to give other amputees who have suffered limb loss through traumatic circumstances the chance to live their life – again.