BOSTON (CBS) — Karen Rand, JP and Paul Norden and Lee Ann Yanni are four of the 264 people seriously injured near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
A year later, their lives are very different.
The Norden Brothers
“Everyday I feel like I get stronger, I’m getting better.” JP Norden said. “I can walk on my leg a little longer than I could the day before.”
To donate: Norden Brothers Go Fund Me
When the bombs went off, JP Norden says he remembers every detail.
“When I tried to get up, I tried to get up with this leg first and I couldn’t get up. I looked down and my leg was already off,” he said.”I was on fire. I was burning and I started putting my legs out, my pants were on fire.”
Immediately he searched for his brother Paul.
Both Stoneham brothers were waiting for a friend to cross the finish line.
Book: Twice As Strong
“Just waiting in front of The Forum, just laughing and joking like we always do, having a good time,” he said.
Both men, Paul’s fiance Jacqui and buddies were hurt in the explosion. The brothers were rushed to different hospitals. Each lost a leg. In some ways, being separated from each other was worse.
JP said when he finally saw his brother Paul, it was the happiest day of his life.
“It was awesome but it was tough to see him that way, too. Yeah, I cried because it was real hard. I don’t like seeing him hurt so that was like, really hard,” Paul said.
Lee Ann Yanni
Today Lee Ann Yannni counts her blessings. She was very close to the blast and says it could have been worse. She was standing in front of Marathon Sports with her husband.
To donate: Lee Ann Yanni fundraising page
“I felt something warm hit my leg, so I thought maybe something went wrong or something broke and then I looked down and saw my bone,” she said.
While Lee Ann, a runner, didn’t lose her leg, the injury was severe.
“The first time I truly broke down was when I took a shower for the first time by myself and really put my hands around my leg and realized it was never going to be the same. That was probably one of my hardest moments,” she said.
It has been a year of moments, good and bad, a year of physical therapy and hard work.
“There’s days that things just don’t go well in rehab and you just have to pick yourself up by your bootstraps and tie your laces and get out the door and keep running,” she says.
Karen Rand lost her left leg in the bombings as well as her best friend Krystle Campbell, one of the three people killed on Marathon Monday. Karen feels Krystle is still with her.
To donate: Karen Rand fundraising page
“I did right from the beginning even when I was in Mass General and it was a funny thing because you never know if it’s just something that you feel because you want to feel better, or if it’s true or if it’s not true. In my heart I believe it’s true,” she says.
For all the survivors, the recovery is difficult and ongoing but the outpouring of support from friends and strangers, helps.
The Road Ahead
“When you have all these people helping you, wanting to see you succeed, it’s a great feeling and you want to succeed,” Karen said.
Today the Norden Brothers hope to start their own roofing and sheet metal company. They want to name it “Norden Brothers.”
“We didn’t have too many bad days because we had so much support from everyone,” JP said.
Karen Rand has turned her misfortune into a mission to help a 14-year-old from El Salvador. Estefania Salinas, who lost her leg in a car crash.
“Once we began following her story, it became our passion to help her, to see what we could do to get her the help she needed and hopefully get her a prosthetic leg,” Karen said.
When Paul Norden woke up in the hospital, he worried that his girlfriend was going to leave him.
“I’m glad she stuck with me,” he says a year later.
Paul and Jacqui plan to marry next year.
“I think we were very close before. I think it’s different now. I think we both went through a traumatic experience together, so we can relate,” she says.
Lee Ann is running again.
“I want that medal, I want to show everybody that I’ve worked as hard as I possibly can from April 15, when it happened, to get better, to get stronger,” she says.
In October, it was the Chicago Marathon and she’s about to tackle Boston with a group of survivors.
“I just felt like this was important for me as a survivor and just, you know, to get through and claim our stake again and say ‘this is where we deserve to be and nobody’s going to stop us from crossing that finish line on April 21.'”
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