Ten years after the Boston Marathon bombing forever changed their lives, several survivors turned that horrific day into a mission to help others facing trauma and limb loss. Inspired by the generosity they received after the attack, they created these five non-profits to pay it forward.
Grad student Brittany Loring was celebrating her 29th birthday near the finish line when the bombs detonated, sending shrapnel into her head, neck, and thigh and fracturing her skull. Grateful for the outpouring of support she received in the hospital, Loring started The Brittany Fund for Trauma and Recovery two months later to provide financial support to fellow trauma survivors and their families so they can focus on their physical and emotional recovery. Most checks are delivered in-person by the fund’s tightknit team of volunteers, which includes the first responders who rushed to help Loring after the attack.
Marathon spectator Heather Abbott was injured in the second blast. After undergoing surgery to remove her lower left leg, she received a basic prosthesis for walking, but insurance would not cover expensive specialty prostheses that would help her return to her active lifestyle. Thanks to the generous support of donors and organizations that helped survivors, Abbott eventually got devices that allowed her to wear heels, run, and paddleboard again. In 2014, she established the Heather Abbott Foundation to help provide custom prostheses to amputees across the country. To date, Abbott has raised close to two million dollars and helped more than a hundred people. She has previously been featured on CNN Heroes and Champions for Change.
Only eight years old, Martin Richard was the youngest of the three victims killed in the attacks, which also seriously injured his mother and sister. Remembered as “a bright, energetic young boy who had big dreams and high hopes for his future,” Richard’s parents, Denise and Bill, created the Martin Richard Foundation in 2014 to promote sportsmanship, inclusion, kindness, and peace. Since then, the foundation has awarded more than $2.9 million in grants to youth-led community service projects and inclusive sports programs. Richard’s siblings are also involved, leading the non-profit’s youth board of directors. A public park named in honor of Richard opened on the Boston Harbor waterfront in 2019.
Dave Fortier was steps away from completing his first marathon when the initial bomb exploded, leaving him with shrapnel wounds and hearing loss. Inspired by the compassion of injured Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who came to help, Fortier created the One World Strong Foundation to build an international support network for survivors and families affected by terrorism, hate crimes, and mass casualties. The non-profit has raised more than $800,000 through donations and federal grants to help hundreds of survivors of many incidents, including mass shootings at the Orlando Pulse nightclub, Sandy Hook Elementary School, and Paris Bataclan theater and the Manchester Arena bombing.
Rebekah Gregory and her then-five-year-old son, Noah, were only three feet away from the first bomb. While Rebekah took the brunt of the impact, leaving Noah physically unscathed, both mom and son were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the months after the attack. Launched in 2018, Rebekah’s Angels helps children and families with PTSD and trauma find and pay for specialized mental health treatment and other resources, which are often not covered by insurance. The non-profit also raises awareness of childhood trauma, PTSD and the importance of early diagnosis and treatment.