BOSTON (CBS) – Every step and every run is a victory for Lee Ann Yanni. And right now it’s all about the Boston Marathon.
“I’m going to make it across that finish line. Nobody’s going to stop me,” she said emphatically.
Running the Boston Marathon was a goal Yanni set for herself just before last year’s race. She was at the finish line with her husband, Nicholas, to soak in the excitement of the day.
They were standing right in front of Marathon Sports, just steps away from the first explosion.
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“I thought it was fireworks… and then I felt something warm hit my leg so I thought maybe something went wrong,” she recalled.
As a physical therapist, Yanni immediately knew her leg was broken but she didn’t realize the true extent of her injuries.
“All I saw was my bone sticking out. My jeans were covering everything.”
Lee Ann stumbled into Marathon Sports. She was eventually carried to the medical tent and then onto Tufts Medical Center. Her lower left leg was shattered.
“I didn’t even look at my leg for about a month after. I just couldn’t handle with the scar and how everything was going to look,” she said.
“The first time I truly broke down was when I took a shower for the first time by myself and just 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.”
Despite the injury, Yanni said she was too stubborn to give up on running.
“I think after my first surgery every time the doctor came into the room I was like ‘So, when can I run? When can I run? When can I run?’ ”
The answer was sooner than anyone could have hoped.
Just six months after Boston, Yanni ran her first marathon in Chicago in memory of her father who died of cancer.
“Only having 5-1/2 weeks of training was quite intense and a pretty awesome moment,” she said.
An awesome moment soon to be topped by Boston.
“That’s going to probably be one of my most shining moments. Super excited.”
Yanni’s husband suffered permanent hearing loss. He’ll be running right alongside her on April 21. She jokes that he better keep up with her.
The couple is part of a survivor community running together called the “4/15 Strong” group.
“We have the survivor stamp on our back because we are proud,” Yanni said. “We are luckier than some, unfortunately, that didn’t make it through all this and we’re trying to run for
them. We want to make sure everybody is accounted for in that race.”
And the strength of a survivor will no doubt power her through all 26.2 miles.
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