BOSTON (CBS) — Anne Tucci was about to make that iconic turn onto Hereford, so close to finishing her first Boston Marathon in 2013. But when bombs exploded near the finish line and the race was stopped, her mother — who was waiting on Boylston St. — went into “Mom Mode” and found her daughter.
“She said ‘You have to stop. Bombs went off,'” Tucci recalled. “[I thought] what are you talking about? I have to finish the marathon.”
It was a close call for Tucci and so many others. But just three weeks later, she wasn’t so lucky.
“I was waiting on the corner and the pedestrian light came on. I looked down the street and started into the crosswalk. At the same time, there was a man driving a landscaping van, making a sharp turn, and he didn’t look to see if anyone was in the crosswalk. He drove over my leg,” Tucci said.
Dragged by the van’s tire, Tucci’s spine was fractured and her leg was broken.
“My tibia and fibula snapped in half like a toothpick,” she said of her injuries.
Surgeons inserted a titanium rod that went from her ankle to her kneecap to stabilize her leg. She was still in a boot and a back brace when an email came from the B.A.A., giving the runners who were stopped in 2013 the chance to finish what they had started.
“I immediately knew that this was going to be my recovery goal, and this was how I’m going to get through this,” Tucci recalled. “Every part of my recovery, every part of my desire to get back on my feet and run again, was for myself but also for the city of Boston and everyone who’d gone through worse trauma than I had.”
Her mission to run the 2014 Boston Marathon was about healing, but it was also about unfinished business.
“This sense of having started something so big; you train for four or five months, you run that day for four-plus hours. It’s not finished until you cross that finish line,” said Tucci.
Tucci’s road back to Hopkinton would be a marathon in itself. She went through fives months of rehab before she was allowed to run again, and those first runs were just a quarter of a mile. But as she grew stronger, the runs grew longer.
“I ran 20 miles and I said, ‘I’m back.’ It was the first day I felt like I had regained everything that I set out to recover,” she said.
Tucci’s second shot at the Boston Marathon was everything she had hoped it would be.
“I was proud to be part of the entire Boston family that day,” she said. “My own journey was a big part of it, but I was proud to be one of the people out there.
“Getting to turn onto Hereford and turn onto Boylston is one of the biggest things I look back on,” added Tucci. “Because I didn’t get to do that in the year before, and so many didn’t get to do that.”
What began as a buck list adventure in 2013 was finally complete. That 2014 run was about taking back control of her life.
Tucci also felt the need to give back, and that led her to Brigham & Women’s Stepping Strong Team.
“Anne just exemplifies everything that we had hoped it would be,” said Audrey Reny.
The Reny Family started The Stepping Strong Foundation to serve the needs of trauma patients after their daughter, Gillian, was injured in the 2013 bombings. A team that started with just 14 runners in 2014 has now grown to 120. They’re hoping to raise more than $1 million this year.
“It’s fulfilling what we hoped in bringing the Boston Strong spirit to the forefront, and continuing to evolve,” said Reny. “People have a way to continue to help others.”
“I’m so inspired by what they have done in taking their family’s tragedy and turning it into hope for so many people,” said Tucci. “It is such an inspiring and selfless act. … I’m so glad to be part of that and contributing to it.”
Tucci says that as long as she can continue to run, she wants to be doing it for Stepping Strong.