“No problem is insurmountable. With a little courage, teamwork and determination a person can overcome anything.”
On April 15, 2013, the Boston Marathon was nearing its end. The racers were crossing the finish line in a cloud of sweat, excitement and joy. Tragically, the shouts of happiness turned to horror only minutes later when two bombs exploded near the finish line, claiming three lives and injuring nearly 300 more people.
It’s been almost a year since the 2013 tragedy, and in less then a month, on April 21 the racers will take their positions and run and hand-cycle through Boston once again. The Achilles International Freedom Team of Wounded Vets will be among those participating in the famous event.
I had the privilege to interview two of the freedom racers, Lt. Cameron Kerr and MSGT John Masson.
Masson, an Army veteran, 42, was injured in Afghanistan, resulting in a triple amputation of both legs and an arm, he was introduced to Achilles during his recovery in Walter Reed. Masson told me following his injury it was difficult to adjust to his new reality, but Achilles and the Freedom Team were an integral part of changing his outlook on his injury.
Typically, after an incident as devastating and as scary as the Boston bombings, the emotional response ranges from fear, anger, and apprehension. Masson told me that while last year’s bombings will be in the minds of spectators and racers alike, “the goal of terrorism is to create and spread fear, and America will not be defeated by terrorists.”
Cameron Kerr, 26, lost a leg while fighting in Afghanistan, is looking forward to participating in the race despite some fear surrounding last year. “I definitely don’t want to get blown up, but there will be so much more security this year so we’ll be safe.”
Overall, both Kerr and Masson look forward to the Marathon, “there’s nothing like the crowd, and the atmosphere of a race, it’s so much fun” says Kerr. Additionally, “the camaraderie between the racers, regardless of military background is always special” states Masson.
Kerr said he also enjoys the community and the connection he has with other amputees. “We understand each other’s challenges and are always supportive of one another.” He hopes he can show other amputees that you can live a full, happy, and productive life despite the obstacles amputation can present.
The bombings at last year’s Marathon are permanently woven into Boston’s history, but one of the most beautiful aspects of the human spirit is its resiliency and the ability to face tragedy and become stronger in the end.