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Heather Abbott Inspires Audience at Holliston High

by Mary Greendale
October 11, 2018

Heather Abbott admits she was living the good life - socially and professionally. Life was great. Until it wasn't - Marathon Monday 2013.

When the second bomb exploded, Heather was blown back into the front door of a restaurant near the finish line. Her foot felt like it was on fire. After three surgeries, she chose to have her leg amputated below her knee rather than live with the pain and uncertainty that her own limb would create.

Heather likes high heels - a lot - and wearing them again became her goal. But not her mission.

That came when she discovered how much prosthetics cost, especially if you wanted a lifelike limb not a metal one like the running one she wore in the photo on right. "If I didn’t have a leg that looked like my own,” she told reporter Tom Cunneff in an April 2016 People.com article, “I don’t know if I would have recovered as well.”

Basic ones cost $10,000 and are not covered after the first one by most insurance, and the prosthetics wear out in a few years. Besides Heather wanted limbs for different activities - running, wearing heels, waterproof, etc.

Heather told the High School audience that she was lucky, because she had good insurance and was the recipient of a successful gofundme campaign, so she was able to spend $70,000 for her high heel prosthetic. She explained that she was also a beneficiary of the Boston One Fund and thanked any donors that happened to be in the room. "I won't need to worry about prosthetics for the rest of my life."

In the photo on right, you can see that she wears the heels she loves.

But because she had created herself a network of support that included many other people who had lost limbs, she knew they did not all have the same advantages. Enter her mission - a foundation. Mission: The Heather Abbott Foundation helps provide customized prostheses to those who have suffered limb loss through traumatic circumstances. 

While she continues to work for Raytheon part time, she most enjoys being on the road, telling people her story and raising funds for prosthetic limbs and eyes. And the story she tells is about how she survived and went on to thrive. She described three key takeaways. 

1. Acceptance - at some point you just have to accept that indeed, this horrible thing happened to you, and it isn't what you wanted or even deserved, but you have to stop looking back and go forward.

2. Build a safety network of people for yourself that will provide you the support you will need on the journey to a new life. She found her support in organizations and people that were involved in improving life for the limbless and many who were the limbless.

3. Pay it forward. Help those who are on a similar journey.

Thank you to the Holliston Parent Teachers Organization for inviting Heather here to speak as part of its Mindshare program to provide special speakers and informational programs to the community. This one was great indeed!

 

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