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A Year After Marathon Bombing, Teen ‘Stepping Strong’ To Help Others

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV
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Boston Strong

 

BOSTON (CBS) — On Marathon Monday 2013, Gillian Reny was an 18-year-old high school senior standing close to the finish line with her parents watching her sister complete the Boston Marathon.

In an instant, her life as she knew it was changed. But Gillian was not.

“What happened, happened,” says Gillian, “it was terrible but you can’t dwell on that it’s not going to get you anywhere.”

Gillian is all about moving forward, but admits the events on Boylston Street will never completely go away.

“It would be a lie to say that I don’t think about it,” she said.

She and her parents were injured watching here sister finish the marathon when the bombs exploded on Boylston Street.

“I lost a lot of muscle so I don’t have a lot of strength as a typical calf,” Gillian says.

An aspiring dancer, the high school senior almost lost her life. She had serious injuries to both legs – limb threatening to one.

Multiple procedures and weeks at Brigham and Women’s Hospital were punctuated by triumphs; like the day she walked on her own for the first time.

With the love of her family and sparkly optimism she fought to keep pace with her senior spring.

“My friends along with my mom really helped me to go to Prom with all my friends and I made it to graduation,” Gillian said.

She gives enormous credit to the physicians who worked so diligently to help her.

“I’d never be here without my amazing doctors – like I can’t even talk bout it, I love them so much,” Gillian said.

Doctors like plastic surgeon Dr. Christian Sampson, who’ll run this year’s marathon in her honor still keep in touch.

“We quickly realized with Gillian we were dealing with a young lady who was extremely determined and had just a remarkable family for support,” Sampson said.

Mom Audrey was at Gillian’s side when she took on the demands of college at the University of Pennsylvania, on time, last fall.

At times, the constant walking on a college campus has been hard.

“It’s a lot of fatigue and soreness,”  she said.

The aptly named Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Fund has been set up by her family at Brigham and Women’s Hospital to help future patients heal from trauma just as successfully as Gillian.

And at this year’s Boston Marathon, her parents and sister will run together.

“I’ll be thinking how proud I am of my daughter, and that I’m grateful we can take something bad that happened to our family and turn it into something good,” Audrey said.

Meanwhile, Gillian will be cheering on her supporters.

“I’m so proud of everyone and honored that they want to run in my honor and to support the fund which means so much to me,” she said.

Gillian hasn’t yet decided where she’ll be for this year’s marathon but she will be stepping strong.

To contribute to the Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Fund at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, contact Terry McGowan at tmcgowan@partnersorg or call 617-424-4316. For more information about the Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Fund, go to their website.

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